Physical Health is a Spiritual Discipline
Through many of my previous articles, I have put a lot of emphasis on spiritual health and how it is essential for us as believers to understand God's will and to use it to overcome our doubts and insecurities. What I have come to realize, in my own walk with God, is that my spiritual strength is not the only thing that matters to God. The Bible often points to another aspect of my life that I have frequently undervalued: taking care of my body.
Just as our spirits need nourishing, our bodies have needs that directly affect our ability to live a happy and abundant life through Christ. What I mean by this is that lack of sleep, poor eating habits, irregular physical exercise can cause us to fumble as we work towards avoiding sin and staying in alignment with God's purpose. Have you ever been too tired to go to church, or even just get up and spend time in prayer? Perhaps you find yourself looking in the mirror and detesting what you see so you shy away from being around others; losing an opportunity to share God's love with someone. You may even notice that you have avoided talking to God altogether because you are so unhappy with yourself that you feel you are not even worth God's time.
I've had to ask myself, is there a possibility that I am hindering myself from the experience of stepping forward in God's calling with complete confidence, boldness, and courage because my health is not a priority? Is there a chance that I am preventing myself from facing challenges that I need to overcome because I lack confidence in my appearance? Have I sidestepped God's mark on my life because I do not feel I have the energy or strength? Have I ignored just how much of a role my health plays in not only sharing God's love and salvation but in my own walk with Christ?
When I faced the mirror with these questions, a passage that my mom used to remind my siblings and I as we grew up began to ring in my ears. "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; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
I used to think that this passage strictly pertained to things like drinking or tattoos, but I believe it means so much more. What I have gathered from this scripture is that:
1. God created my body.
Everything on this earth was created by His hand, including me. God molded my body and breathed life into me. He gave me life and purpose. How can I allow myself to neglect the one creation he solely gave to me?
2. God redeemed my body.
The love God has for me was enough to compel him to send his only son to die in my place, freeing me of all sin and earthly fears. (link to my previous article). He freed my body from bondage so I could live a life without fear and uncertainty. I have the freedom to make a change. I have the sovereignty to take control. I have a choice.
3. God indwells in my body.
I should consider the intimate connection I have with Christ. My body is a sacred place where the Holy Spirit not only dwells but is worshiped, celebrated, and admired. I should treat my body as such.
4. God has expectations for my body.
It's not just about losing a few pounds, finally liking what I see in the mirror. It isn't about living longer or being able to run a marathon. I am called to take care of and honor God's temple so He can use me and push me past the limitations of the world. Keeping my body healthy has become more than just a physical discipline; it is a spiritual discipline. Romans 12:1 says to "make a decisive dedication of your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service and spiritual worship."
In support of these things, there are many stories in the bible where God shows us that physical health is a priority and is actually His will for us. In John 21, after Peter's betrayal, Jesus made sure Peter stopped and ate a warm breakfast and had a full stomach before he began speaking to Peter's heart. Furthermore, Jesus told Peter that if he hoped to avoid betraying Jesus, that Peter should sleep. Likewise, when Elijah was crying out to God that "I have had enough…take my life" God sends him an angel who tells him to eat (1 Kings 19:4-9). Only after they were fed and were sustained did God feel it was the right time to lead them.
This tells me that God needs me to be strong, focused, motivated, rested and not lethargic. He needs me to be well nourished so that He can nurture me, and I can, in turn, nurture others. I need to work vigorously; arms strong, ready for my tasks (Proverbs 31:17). And as I work towards a stronger, healthier me, I do have to remember that a perfect physique does not guarantee optimal success and satisfaction. True happiness does not come from outer appearance; it comes from pursuing God's will with all of my heart, mind, body, soul, and strength.
Check out a podcast that I have enjoyed as I have worked to improve my physical health:
Megan Bouchillon | DPW Guest Writer
Megan Bouchillon’s days are full with being a working mom, wife to her best friend and an owner of many plants. She somehow manages to fit her passions into the cracks of her day; which are, writing, podcasting, thrifting, spinning in circles with her son and laughing with her hubby.