First Corinthians 10:31 gives health-conscious people everywhere a biblical treadmill to run on: “So whether you eat or drink, orwhatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” In context, the author, Paul, is helping his readers understand that meat offered to false gods wasn’t tainted, but some unbelievers felt that it was, so Christ-followers should eat (or not eat) in deference to their neighbors. The ruling ethic being, “Practice freedom regulated by love.”
We might find this situation today with Jews who follow the kosher laws. Don’t eat the pork, folks, when you’re hanging with your Jewish buddies. It’s simple. If it offends them, lay off. We have freedom, but it must be regulated by love.
But universally, our eating and drinking glorifies or denigrated God as it affects our health. Even in relation to our own bodies, we must follow the same ethic of freedom regulated by love. Do you love your family? Your friends? Yourself? Then take care of your body so that, as far as you are able, it remains or becomes healthy and strong.
Arlene Pellicane, author of 31 Days to a Younger You addressed this principle in a workshop at a recent women's conference. She gave us three suggestions on how to apply it:
- Be creative with regular exercise. Like many folks, I sit at a desk most of the day, so I have to go looking for my exercise. Go walking with a friend, find a treadmill on Craigslist, use the neighborhood gym a few mornings or evenings. Go swimming if you can. Take a spin class.
- Be realistic. If you’re dieting, don’t go from your usual 2000+ daily calorie intake down to 900 per day. You’ll cure your starvation after the dinner hour with a bowl of ice cream, completely blowing your diet on day one. Decrease your calories, yes, but remember the slow-but-steady wins the race. Two pounds per week is a worthy goal—those pounds are more likely to stay off than the ten you lost on that 7-day cleansing regimen. Same goes with exercise. Don’t try to run a 5K right off. Build your stamina and stay healthy (i.e., no injuries) as you train your way towards a goal. Know your body’s limitations as you start so that you can work your way to a stronger, healthier self.
- Be proactive. Schedule your exercise and put it on your calendar. Find an app or an old-fashioned journal to help you record your caloric intake. Writing it down and, better yet, telling someone else adds accountability to your efforts. Knowing that your trusted friend is watching your food journal on MyFitnessPal may help you deny yourself that ice cream cone with the kids. And who wants to be the one who stands up the friend who will get up before the sun to walk with you? Share the journey with someone else.
Why bother? Is it all about body image? Do we fight for a healthy weight and size purely to feel good about ourselves or deny aging? Why is it important to do everything for the glory of God, as Paul admonished the Corinthians and us?
Because we are children of the King, created by God for the works he has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Because He loved you so much that Jesus became human and sacrificed his life for yours. Consider your health as a thank offering to him. We can’t live for him if we’re allowing our bodies to fall apart through our unhealthy choices. In our determination to become or stay healthy, we reflect God’s perfect plan when He created us.
So hop on that treadmill and queue up some high-energy tunes to keep you going. Something like Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Do Everything”?