“Christ will be honored in my body.” -Philippians 1:20
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Over five months ago, my wife and I stayed at the Vanderbilt NICU for 9 days with our newest son. During that time I enjoyed a lot of what the vending machines and the food court had to offer. On top of that, the Ronald McDonald House had an enormous spread of food fit for a king. And I could have it all. All that I wanted. And I did.
When we returned home, I knew I had to make a change. I remember the scale in our bathroom confirming that. I was 236 lbs., not a healthy weight for my body type. Many of you reading this might relate somehow. As I write this today, I am 202 lbs. Normally when someone loses 34 lbs., others are interested in learning how that was accomplished. However, my goal in writing this is not to explain how I did it. Instead, I want to explain why I did it.
“What’s your motivation?” That’s what I asked myself when I realized my need for change. More important than a weight check was a heart check. My eating habits and weight gain resulted from something going on much deeper inside my heart, and if I could figure that out, I’d be at the root of the problem. In other words, I was asking myself the question, “What’s my motivation in eating the way I do?”
The Lord was gracious to reveal my sin to me, and this was no small matter. In fact, it had everything to do with the glory of God. My eating habits made me look like an enemy of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). You may think that’s a strong statement. We’re just talking about eating, right? (We’re so good at self-justifying and belittling our sin!) But consider the verse that follows. Speaking of enemies of the cross, it says, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). I was being ruled by my appetite. My mind was set on earthly things. I was worshiping created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). To be clear, the problem wasn’t so much about my physical hunger. Rather, it was my spiritual hunger. My hunger for Christ was less than my heart’s hunger for good food. That was the root of the problem.
Okay. Time to put off the old, sinful motivation. Time to put on something new. So what should my new motivation be? It could be weight loss. It could be looking better. It could be improved health. It could be living longer to enjoy my family. Those are mostly good goals, but I still had to realize the only motivation to set my heart on a new path is the glory of God. “What’s my motivation? Is it that Christ will be honored in my body? Or is it that I will be honored in my body by looking better as I lose weight?” That’s how the internal struggle went.
So what’s your motivation for healthy eating/weight loss/exercise? Is it to live longer? Be healthier? To be more active with your kids/grandkids? Those are good goals, but achieving them will still leave your heart longing if you’re greatest motivation is not the glory of God. You’re body will eventually waste away, and it will be yet another idol leaving you unfulfilled. But Christ fulfills. Always. Even more than food. Seek healthy habits for the glory of God. Eat as if the cross of Christ has transformed you. Control your body in holiness and honor (1 Thess. 4:4).
What’s your motivation?