"Glorify God In Your Body"
A father buys his son a nice sports car for his sixteenth birthday. The son is so overjoyed he can hardly contain himself. The boy passes his driver’s test and is off in his brand new car to show it off to his buddies. His friends are jealous proclaiming “You’re so lucky you have such a cool dad who loves you!” A year later, the car has yet to be washed, has been in numerous fender benders, and is full of garbage. The engine is now running poorly. The boy’s friends no longer comment on his father’s love, nor do they ask to see their friend’s car anymore. The father is disappointed at the boy’s mistreatment of the car and hangs his head in dismay.
So what happened? The father loved his son and entrusted the son with something beautiful, costly, and awe-inspiring. The son violated that trust by not tending to that gift and instead treated the precious gift with contempt by not faithfully taking care of the car.
God’s Precious Gift to Us
This example serves as an illustration for all of us. God has blessed us beyond measure by providing for our every need as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). To suppose that God has not done so would be to call the Father’s love and power into question. Among the most precious of these gifts is the gift of our physical bodies. Although science has attempted for centuries to gain a full understanding of the body and has made tremendous increases in that understanding, scientists can hardly claim to have met that goal in any detail.
Despite the beauty of this gift, many non-Christians as well as Christians have done little in the way of respecting their bodies as a gift from God. God has commanded that we faithfully treat with respect what he gives to us. Jesus made this point in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). If we do not take care of our bodies, our most precious physical blessing, how do you think God views that?
Paul stated that, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Certainly, all foods are free to be consumed – the New Testament makes that very clear (1 Corinthians 8; 10; Romans 14; Acts 10-11). However, flagrant indulgence and unhealthy habits have never been approved of.
Solomon demonstrates that the lack of self-control only leads to ruin. “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags” (Proverbs 23:19-21). Later he writes, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father” (Proverbs 28:7). Paul points out that one component of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23). One of the signs of coming false teachers was a lack of self-control (2 Timothy 3:3). (Do others see our lack of self-control and identify us as false teachers?) Peter wrote that self-control is something that needs to be added to the Christians faith (2 Peter 1:6). Therefore, reason would suggest that any lack of self-control is a disappointment to our Father just as in our illustration.
Helping Others Exercise Self-Control
As a preacher, I am invited into a lot of people’s homes. I am always grateful for the hospitality and especially for the home-cooked meals. Yet, on occasion, I have been witness to some Christians being a stumbling block for those who lack self-control in their eating. Gluttonous behavior is cheered on in an effort to be “hospitable” or to obtain some sort of self-satisfaction for the cook. Brethren, this cannot be! We are to be a help meet for one another, not stumbling blocks!
Applications for Us
Speaking about self-discipline can be a tricky issue. Some are easily offended at the slightest remark. Some read too much into comments. Nevertheless, self-mastery is a command that we are given as Christians so we should talk about it more often than we do.
We all know that nutritious eating and exercise is beneficial for us; this is common sense (cf. 1 Timothy 4:8). Paul stated “I discipline my body and make it my slave…” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Can we say the same? Do we exercise discipline in regard to our own bodies or do we treat them with contempt? Are we stumbling blocks to others who lack self-control? Do we mock others who strive for self-mastery? Take a moment to measure yourself by your response to these questions.
How effective can you be for God if you knowingly disregard your health? Or better yet, how much more effective could you be in God’s service if you treated your body with greater respect? As you choose what is best for you spiritually on a daily basis, why not choose what is best physically for the body as well? In all things, we must glorify God. I can think of no better way than to start with our bodies for that is an area that we do have much control over. Keep in mind this thought that Paul presented to the Corinthians: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).