Loving God by Caring for Our Bodies

As I made the long climb up the steps with my fellow exercisers, we greeted each other as we had for so many mornings.  It was 6:20 am and the sun wasn’t entirely up but we were!  As we hauled weights and mats to our meeting place, one member of our groups posed a question:  “Do you suppose that when we get to heaven, we will discover that God’s ideal is slightly plump?”  We laughed but didn’t even pause.  After spending three years’ worth of mornings working out with the different but “perfectly” shaped women on various DVDs, we were determined to continue what we had begun!

We have entered a new year and it seems everyone is setting goals for healthy eating and exercise. But there’s one valuable exercise which we could add to our new or existing routines – an examination of God’s Word and His perspective on our physical bodies.

While our tendency as women is to belittle our bodies with our words, we often spend disproportionate amounts of time and money upon the care, dressing, and feeding of our bodies.  The discrepancy between our words and our actions often shows our own confusion over what is valuable in God’s sight. Scripture can clear up this confusion with some of the closing words from I Thessalonians:

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (5:23)

This verse, with its focus on the entirety of our being, shows that God does not value the immaterial over the material parts of our being.  His plan for us that encompass all that we are! Since he values our bodies as well as our souls we need to share His perspective.

When I look at myself “honestly” and “comparatively,” I do not naturally share God’s perspective.  And yet, my body serves as His home.  I was created for Him (Col.1:16) and He describes it as the temple within which He dwells. He makes it very clear that I no longer belong to myself but am entirely His – spirit, soul, and body.(I Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19-20).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Fatherfrom whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.   (Eph 3:14-17)

As believers, we are Christ’s dwelling place.  He enters in by His Spirit and through faith.  Because these are truths in the spiritual realm and we cannot explore them with our senses, they sometimes seem unreal.  To understand these verses more clearly, we need to absorb the meaning of dwell. To dwell means, being completely at home. Suddenly, this verse comes alive because it is so personal.  The thought that God by His Spirit can be completely at home in me is astonishing!  For every woman who longs to make her house a place where her family feels completely at home, this idea is not a foreign one.  The question we must now ask ourselves is, “What can we do to make Christ’s home a welcoming place for Him?”

and you belong to Christ . . . (I Cor 3:23)

The truth of Christ’s indwelling – and its implications for our personal responsibility – raises the issue of stewardship.  If you are like me and have grown up in church, you may immediately think of a fundraising effort when you hear this term.  But if we look at the biblical concept of stewardship, this word takes on a deeper significance.  God, as the maker of this world, has entrusted it to us.  The work of His hands is to be cared for by His children as His stewards. If you take this same truth and apply it to us as believers who belong wholly to Him, then we are simply taking care of our bodies for Him.  They belong to Him and we simply manage them.  What a privilege!

As life-changing as these ideas may be, what does it look like as we live them out on a day-to-day basis?  How can we live like stewards who will be called to give an account to God for the management of that which belongs to Him?

  1. We must submit our thoughts to God and His Word so that we think about our bodies the way He does. This may mean that we have to confess some of our thoughts as sin if they are out of alignment with God’s Word. Are you willing?
  2. We must examine our hearts in the light of God’s Word to see what He sees (Psalm 119:130). My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.   Psalm 84:2 b We often think that we have no choice but to yield to the desires of our flesh.  In reality, our flesh belongs to God and can be yielded to His control and resisted by His Spirit.  We do not have to feed every hunger pang or live from one longing to the next.  We can ask God to transform us so that we, like David, will long for God with our whole being. With God in His proper place, other desires are curbed.  What does your heart and flesh cry out for?
  3. We must value what God values. What do we treasure? I have treasured the words of His mouth, More than my necessary food. Job 23:12 A longing for God extends to His Word.  My prayer for myself and for others is that we will desire God’s Word more than the food we need.  One commentator explains that necessary food is the portion of food prescribed for me.  Have you ever considered that God has prescribed a certain portion of food for you?  How would your life change if you accepted this truth?
  4. We must put off sinful habits that are destructive. We often cage our flesh with external limitations and human resolutions, but leave it alive and well to be released whenever we desire to indulge it. Are you willing to crucify it? (Rom. 6:1-14)

May we as women of God be totally yielded to Him-spirit, soul, and body!

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:24-25

 

Ready to go deeper? Download Cheryl’s Worksheet Our Body God’s Temple WS.