On any given day, there are thousands of choices we make, whether we realize it or not. Subconsciously or actively we choose certain things over others: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the books we read, the television we watch, the people we fellowship with. We each find our “thing,” our favorites, and our comfort zones. Yet sometimes, comfort zones and favorites can be in many ways toxic to our bodies and spiritual lives.
When I was a little girl, one thing I loved to do was bake. I couldn’t cook a lick, but bake I could. So on the weekends, while my brother made us bacon and eggs or his own version of a cowboy casserole for breakfast, I would make my family a batch each of muffins and pancakes. Measuring, pouring, mixing, and taste-testing the spoon — that was my thing. I wasn’t always exact nor paid attention to detail, but I did enjoy baking. And somehow, because I was involved in sports and marching band, plus a lot having to do with genetics, metabolism, and my body type, I never looked like I went overboard.
Yet even if we don’t look like we have unhealthy habits, many of us still do. I may not have looked like I gained a few pounds over the weekend full of carbs because of how active I was back in high school, but I did eat fairly unhealthy: full of carbs and sweets, a lot of it at that, that I may as well could have gained. And that isn’t very honorable, is it? I wasn’t taking care of my body by feeding it the nutrients God designed it to have, the fresh plant foods it craved. Instead I chose sweets and too many breads and carbs, which in the amounts that I consumed, is considered toxic and unhealthy to the body. It wasn’t a healthy and balanced diet by any means.
Or consider the shows and movies we watch, or the music we listen to. There used to be a time in adolescence that I listened to whatever was popular — the music everyone else was listening to. When I was younger I didn’t have my own set of favorites — it was instead whatever was on the popular radio station, the top 100 of the time. I had no idea with my limited pre-adolescent vocabulary that many of those songs were truly harmful to any individual, filled with language or negativity in some form. I was oblivious! I was simply listening to what was popular at the time, or whichever song had a good beat — not listening to the lyrics.
Oh, how time has changed things. Especially having two small children today, I’m more concerned about the words and lyric used — we only listen to uplifting Christian radio today. Even more so with having two small children to care for today, I’m invested in their health and little bodies, making sure we all eat well, considering nutrition and amounts needed in each day. Every decision for our health is prayerfully considered and purposeful. It truly affects much.
Intention and purpose in what we listen to and partake in has value — because it all affects us — our bodies and minds, whether we wish to admit so or not. Taking inventory of what you are listening to, what you are watching, what you are speaking, what you are reading, what you are doing with your time, and what you are eating, is important. This is true for us adults as well as for our children — especially for those of us with small children; We are the adults who can choose well for them, and teach them how to make positive and healthy choices. We can set the foundation for a lasting blueprint for little ones, of learning how to honor God with their bodies, and the different areas these choices affect.
There’s an anonymous quote I’ve read many times that says: “You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, the conversations you engage in. Choose wisely what you feed your mind.” Oh, the truth of these words… Especially for Christ-followers.
Choose wisely what you feed your mind. Choose wisely what you feed your body. Choose wisely how you spend your days, your years, your life. These everyday decisions are ways we can steward our bodies well — not just by eating real food grown from dirt, which is good and well and designed by God in the garden, but also by being a good steward of every individual choice in our lives…Ultimately by being a good steward of our bodies God gave us. He created us for His glory — are our choices glorifying Him?
And that’s so hard to do, isn’t it? Some days I just want to sit on the couch, eat my cookies and cake, and watch a few episodes of the latest on Netflix. Yet just because “binge-watch” is now an official word in the dictionary, doesn’t mean that we have to partake in a cultural norm. When something is widely accepted in our culture today, it often means that sin lies within, or it may be extra-biblical and is ultimately is toxic for the soul. This is very telling — time for a soul-reflection on your habits. Take heart, and put up the mirror of Christ to everything you say and partake in. Bingeing on anything, whether it’s media or food, isn’t glorifying God. And as Christians, this needs to stop.
As Christians we are called to a more abundant life in Jesus Christ. This means plainly that we are not to be of the world around us — we are to be set apart. Christ frees us from the shackles of this world by His free gift of agape love to us bestowed on the cross, and it is only a natural response for us to want to thank Him by all we do, to honor Him and His sacrifice for us in our everyday lives. Living a healthier life in every aspect as mentioned, ultimately frees us to reach our greatest potential in Jesus Christ, to live an abundant life in Him and for His purpose. And our greatest commandment as Christians is to love God and love people (Matthew 22:35–40). We can love God and love people better by stewarding our own bodies well, because when we feel better, we do better. Doing all in love is where abundant living prospers.
Ultimately, this we do this by choosing wisely.
It is said that in life, there are only two things we can control: our choices, and how we let other people’s choices affect us. Our choices include what we think, say, and do (including food!)
We choose to be honorable with food, words, acts.
We choose to be a good steward of this one body we have.
We choose to be honorable with our bodies.
Because as Christians, that is what we are called to do.
A very well known passage in Psalms states, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (139:14 NIV) If we truly do know this in the depths of our souls, that we are beautiful creations and God chose us, then a natural response is praise and thanksgiving. And out of that, we make a choice to take action to be an honorable and good steward of these gifts. The gift of life, the gift of our bodies, the gift of our faith as Christians. We choose to step into our calling — not vocationally, but relationally, by treating our bodies in an honorable way, physically and mentally.
There’s another anonymous quote I read recently which states, “You are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”
It’s this sweet juxtaposition of the always in between as women of faith: we are constantly moving forward and taking steps to be the women we are called to be in Christ, while leaving behind the layers and shackles that leave us in cages, as fragile canaries afraid to sing our God-given song. We leave behind the things that do not serve us and our purposes in Jesus Christ while holding on to the hope that He has better things in store for us. We leave behind crude language and musical lyrics, or sugar-filled eating habits, and walk into a new creation, an abundant life. We can and are masterpieces, beautiful creations in Jesus Christ, yet also works-in-progress, continually being refined by the One who sees us intimately, the only One who can meet our longing for something more in this world: Jesus.
Jesus. Not food. Not trashy novels. Not popular media choices. Not skimpy clothes.
Not in chasing the world.
Our longing for something more is only found in Jesus Christ.
And by acknowledging this, it is only natural and purposeful to choose to honor Him with our bodies, and all we do.