As a Child of God, have you ever felt unworthy that He chose your body as His home on this earth? I know I sure have, especially in a world that teaches us to obsess about every imperfection in our bodies and though unrealistic, to aim for perfect bodies. That impossible feat sounds like the planned lie of the enemy; yet, God isn’t saying that at all. (I John 2:16-17) The beauty of the gospel is that through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, made holy and whole (as He created us before evil could taint us), thus worthy of the Holy Spirit taking up residency within our earthly bodies. What a beautiful and redemptive picture!
Unfortunately, this time of year, our culture pushes us to experience all the pleasures of this life (that God created and man distorts) without restraint, without a thought to the consequences of our choices, then guilts us at the beginning of the year to right all our holiday wrongs. Sound familiar?
Well, Christian Friend, I don’t want you to take that trip down Regret Lane this year, and I feel sure the Lord doesn’t want you to either. Instead, I’d love to partner with you to help you shift your focus to see this holiday season as an opportunity to honor God with your body and stick it to the devil! I believe that starts with the right mindset of 1) seeing that the way you treat your body is a reflection of the value you put on God’s creation as well as 2) your understanding that it’s a vessel which allows you to love and serve God and others to your best ability. (Ephesians 2:10) Though we’ll have new (perfect) bodies as Christians one day (Philippians 3:21), in our human form on this earth, our essence includes mind, body, spirit, and soul. To neglect any part of who we are is to neglect God’s creation. Instead, Paul urges us to express our gratitude for what God has done for us by dedicating our bodies as vessels for His use. (Romans 12:1-2a) Furthermore, Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 6:19 that as Christians, our bodies are God’s templeand not our own. -Do you think it brings God glory to give Him our run-down, unkept, toxic, drained, sick, incapable bodies when we know that’s not our personal best? Is that a proper sacrifice for the One who bought our freedom at a high price?
If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you to get out your Bible and look up these verses as you go. They add so much value and give a more thorough understanding of the principles I'm sharing here.
How you choose to honor God’s temple is a personal choice, but I’d like to give you a few Biblical truths to consider in applying to this topic of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
1. We start with abiding in Him daily. Choosing to spend time in God’s Word,
communing with Jesus is how we’ll produce the fruit of His Spirit. (John 15:4-5) I can’t overstate the importance of this quiet time alone with God during such a hectic and distracting season. It will help you stay grounded and intentional in a world of overstimulation, overindulgence, and overspending. The Enemy uses this tactic of separating us from our one true Source of love, life, and joy so we focus on everything but God during this time. Once we’ve filled our tank, we can fill others’ tanks.
2. In the time we spend with God, He’s renewing our minds. (Romans 12:2) Instead of being transformed to the ways of the world by eating more than we need, turning to food instead of God for comfort, eating foods that destroy rather than edify our health, becoming sedentary binge-watchers or social media consumers, or even obsessing about every morsel we consume and the calories we still have to burn by the end of the day, we see those as tactics of the enemy to sabotage God’s temple or make it an idol. We instead start thinking differently…
“How can I fuel my body to best fill my Kingdom role?”
“What food or activity will give me energy instead of deplete it?”
“What habits will help my body fight illness and disease that weakens the human body and causes suffering and debilitation, thus inhibiting my Kingdom work?”
3. Through our communion with our Father, He’s filling us with His Spirit so we produce the fruit of self-control, a pro-active approach, rather than reacting with regret to try to undo the damage of our choices, as the world does. (Galatians 5:22-23) Think about eating and exercise disorders; medication; weight loss interventions like pills, shakes, extreme diets, and surgeries. Our culture offers us a quick fix to clean up the mess we’ve made, a human rescue (Isaiah 30:2) that the enemy uses to influence us into not depending on God. Notice that the solution to our failures doesn’t lie in our culture’s ways but in a gentle, not harsh, response (also a fruit of the Spirit) and repentance for our sins, which involves a turning away from those harmful behaviors. (Ezekiel 14:6) Let’s revisit self-discipline: I invite you to pause and ask the help of the Holy Spirit to bring to mind situations where you tend to overindulge, be lazy, obsess, or neglect. Think about how the last situation made you feel (sick, weak, tired, stressed, ashamed, etc), and how you’d rather feel. Ask the Holy Spirit to support you the next time you’re in that situation and to show you the best choice that you should make to glorify Him in your body. You’re making a plan ahead of time and praying for strength before you go to that Christmas party, for example.
4. When we begin seeing ourselves through God’s eyes, we understand that we’re His beloved, worthy of self-care, self-compassion, self-kindness, self-gentleness. (Colossians 3:12) Our actions are a reflection of our beliefs; they bear witness to what’s in our hearts and can be a testimony to the glory of God our Father or a tool in the enemy’s hands to evoke self-loathing, self-obsession, self-pity, self-reliance, and ultimately self-destruction. When we understand our true value, we start asking ourselves questions like,
“Is this [food, activity, behavior, relationship, investment of time/money/energy] life-giving or life-depleting?” (John 10:10) Sometimes that looks like saying no to another party and saying yes to sitting down to slowly enjoy a home-cooked meal with your family or friends. It might look like choosing a gluten-free cookie recipe that doesn’t use artificial sweeteners, choosing water over another alcoholic drink, moving your body mindfully, choosing more rest over another cup of coffee, or choosing to eat mindfully rather than another fast-food meal on the run. This will look different for everyone because we’re unique individuals.
“How does it help me live my purpose and glorify God?” (Ephesians 2:10)
“Does it serve me or do I serve it?” (Has it become an idol? -Galatians 4;8)
5. God has given us good gifts to enjoy and has met all our needs through the food He’s put on this earth, the communities He’s made us a part of, His other creations like animals, the beauty of nature, and the opportunity to experience and care for nature. Yet, it’s a constant human struggle to see a good thing as just that without making it a God-thing. Let this busy holiday season ahead be your training ground, where you are intentional about enjoying God’s good gifts with gratitude and are simultaneously aware when you start to make them your idol(the thing you can’t live without or get enough of, the thing that competes for God’s place in your heart). (Romans 1) That idol doesn’t have to be food, it can be something like exercise too!
6. We are each individually accountable to God for how we steward all that He has given us, including our bodies. I challenge you not to think of God’s loving guidelines (warnings about gluttony and indulgence, for example) as rules you have to follow in order to please Him but to think of how you get to maximize what He has given you (think of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30). How are you investing in your body to live a life worthy of your calling? (Ephesians 4:1)
The means for self-care can help us to arrive to an end of doing more for God, but the entire journey is an opportunity to glorify Him. (I Corinthians 10:31)
For more specific ways to put this into practice, go here to sign up for my Healthy Holiday Habits Challenge beginning Monday, November 15th!
I invite you to take the challenge!
In Love & Service,