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“In every other area of life Christians are supposed to strive for mastery over sin (anger, gossip, impurity etc.), but when it comes to health people tend to get annoyed at those who suggest eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast is probably not the wisest choice.”
A good friend made this observation recently and it got me thinking about how—despite the fact that gluttony is condemned in Scripture (Ezek. 16:49; Prov. 28:7; Prov. 23:21; 1 Cor. 9:27; Num. 11:32-34; Phil 3:19)—it continues to be among the most prevalent and least addressed sins in Western Christian circles today.
Gluttony can easily be brushed off as no big deal, especially compared to seemingly worse physical vices, such as smoking or sexual promiscuity. But the truth is, our spiritual life will not be as rich if we mistreat our bodies, and that includes being careless about the food we eat.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Paul realized that our physical health is connected to our spiritual health.
Below are several ways a balanced diet can enhance our walk with God:
Increases our capacity to obey God. Living a healthy lifestyle keeps us ready for whatever assignment God has for us. Someone may be a gifted and enthusiastic evangelist; but if he dies prematurely of a heart attack caused by obesity, countless people will never hear him share the Gospel. Or perhaps someone is a key member of an international mission team, but she is unable to handle the strenuous travel because she is not physically fit. If we want to be prepared to go where God calls us and do what He tells us, we need to treat our bodies well.
Promotes Discipline/Self-Control. Discipline is a virtue that must be learned and developed. Becoming disciplined with what we eat can overflow into better self-control in other areas of life as well, such as prayer, Bible reading, exercise, and service. And learning to say no to unhealthy food enhances the confidence and skills we need to say no to other types of temptations.
Presents a positive image to unbelievers. There are people watching Christians’ lives. The way we treat our bodies says a great deal about us. The world tends to obsess over physical beauty, and that’s not healthy, but Christians should understand that our appearance sends a message about what we believe. God created us with the capability of caring for the body He gave us. Maintaining a healthy body weight is part of a balanced, well-rounded life.
Food can become an idol. Idolatry is every bit as prevalent today as it was in biblical times. It can take the form of money, power, busyness, and even food! Paul wrote, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). Whether we acknowledge it or not, overeating is a way of saying “my desires are more important that what God wants for me.”
Our bodies are gifts from God. Just as it is important to demonstrate good stewardship over the finances and abilities God has given us, we ought to take care of our bodies by keeping them healthy. Along with exercise, making wise decisions about what we eat is the best way to do that.