Diets. Fitness programs. Vitamins. Meal plans. What comes to mind when you read these words? Anxiety or shame? Fear or guilt? Like you, I am bombarded daily with messages about fitness and health. This constant tsunami of images and how-tos is inescapable. Additionally, it’s ever-changing! One nutrition expert says “low fat” while the Paleo dieter says “eat all the fats!” Even friends and family differ in opinion or lifestyle choices. You may be tempted to give up. Maybe you gave up years ago. So, why should we care about physical health? And does the Bible say anything about how we should treat our bodies?
A Biblical View on the Body
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read that when it comes down to it, the “vessels,” or bodies, that we inhabit, are not truly ours:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.”
In the surrounding text, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth because they were not getting along at all! Paul addresses lawsuits, differing views on freedoms, and even sexuality. While there is a lot that can be learned from this broad passage, I want to focus on one overarching idea. God cares about your body and what you do with it. He designed it; he made it. This amazing Savior, who shed blood to save us from our sin, is the same Creator God who fashioned muscle and bone in your body. He created water to nourish and sustain us. He gives sleep so that our bodies can repair and heal! The earth grows fruit, vegetables, and grains at his command. Our Creator and Provider cares about us—he cares about our bodies.
Who Are We?
Emotional. Physical. Mental. Spiritual. We are made in the image of a complex God, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are complex human beings. We are more than just a soul trapped in a body. God has made us and wired us to work in all these facets for his glory. Faith is required to hold on to truths that are too big for us to actually understand. We do it all the time for spiritual concepts. I believe that faith is also required for the things about ourselves that we don’t and can’t understand. Faith is needed because our physical, mental, and emotional health often feel intangible and indescribable. Faith embraces how God has made us and seeks to steward the body well.
It’s fairly easy for the Christian to focus on spiritual health, and rightly so! We have the spiritual disciplines to guide us as we pursue well-rounded health and growth for our souls. Prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, musical worship, fellowship with believers—all tools we use for the health of our inward man.
But have you ever asked yourself what you pursue for the health of your outward man? Do you prioritize ways to grow your body in health? Do you purposefully care for it with the stewardship it deserves? Beginning with the list below, take a closer look at your physical habits, healthy or not. And may I remind you? Ask the Holy Spirit to give insight into your life, your body, and your choices.
- How well do I sleep at night? – Are you struggling to get enough sleep? Put bedtime on the calendar or set an alarm.
- Do I drink enough water? – Keep a full water bottle in the car for errands. You can drink and drive with H2O!
- Am I often sick? – Look into boosting your immune system with nutrients from food and vitamins.
- Am I addicted to certain foods? Am I addicted to eating at certain times? – Not sure? Remove a food or food group for a week or two. If you are hangry and irritable, now you know!
- Do I move often? – Can’t remember the last time you took a walk, did a squat, or stretched on a yoga mat? Then it’s been too long!
- What does my plate look like? Am I proud of my food choices? – Remember the rainbow? Make it a goal to eat colorful fruits and veggies at every meal.
- Am I stressed to the max? Do I manage stress well? – Ask a trusted friend or family member. We often need outside help to see the load we are carrying. Ask for accountability in how you want to manage your stress.
- Do I have physical pain that I am ignoring? – Maybe it’s time to finally see a doctor, nutritionist, or research homeopathic remedies.
Listening to our bodies sounds weird, I know. But consider this for a moment: since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, isn’t it possible that he speaks to us through them? He might be urging us to stop, get some fresh air, put aside the stress, or choose water over coffee. While we can’t defer to our natural desires for all directions, we can wisely listen to the ways our body speaks to us because God has designed it to operate in wholeness.
Next time your back is screaming at you from sitting too long or you’re reaching for sugar when your body is actually thirsty—listen. God cares about your body, your whole body, and he cares about the choices you make. So, my friends, get your blood pumping and pray while you’re at it. Prep a nutritious meal and jam to your favorite worship playlist. Pick up some weights and listen to that podcast sermon.
These little actions are glorifying to God, and they’re beneficial for you. They are ways that you and I can practically live out the gospel with a biblical view of health and a right understanding of who we are and why these bodies matter.