Why is it so much harder to talk about our physical health than it is our spiritual or emotional health? Perhaps it is because our motives are not always clear. Do we take care of our bodies in order to look good, feel good, or to honor God? Are these motives mutually exclusive? There are many good motivations for taking care of our temples, but here I will highlight my top three:
My Love for Jesus
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.”
Full surrender includes loving God with our physical strength as well as our hearts, souls, and minds.
Our living sacrifice is not to be confused with Jesus’ bodily sacrifice, which was for our salvation. Our daily sacrifice is not for our salvation, but for our sanctification.
In Romans 12, the apostle Paul transitions readers from the theological to the personal and practical. Laying our bodies on the altar means that we are surrendering ourselves completely, and in some measure literally, to the Lord. Surrendering is a daily act that involves our whole self, which includes our bodies and their wellbeing. Living a healthy lifestyle is a part of daily surrender to God.
“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
My Love for My Wife
Marriage is another motivator for me to stay physically healthy. When I said “I do” to Janet three decades ago, was I giving her my heart, my soul, my mind, or my body? I was giving her all four!
I surrendered the exclusive rights of my body to both Jesus and Janet over thirty years ago. They are daily sources of motivation for me to take care of myself. On our wedding day, I publicly vowed to Janet that I would love her to my dying breath.
I realize that I won’t be as physically healthy or handsome when I finish my vows as when I originally spoke them. That is ok because our temples were designed to be temporary. Although I made no guarantees to her regarding my expiration date, it was assumed that I would not short-change her or my kids by accelerating my exit.
If I grow ill and dependent on Janet in my later years, I am confident that she will love me in sickness and in health. But I have no intention of neglecting my body now so that she or our children have to pay the bill later.
My Love for Ministry
Ministry is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. I never grow tired of pastoring, but I do sometimes grow tired from it. Experts tell us that we cannot completely separate our physical health from our spiritual, mental, and emotional health. For example, when I am physically exhausted, I find myself fighting off negative thoughts.
Chuck Norris jokes are funny because of the reputation he gained as a tough actor and stuntman, along with his legitimate martial arts credentials. Although he is 25 years older than me, and three inches shorter, I have no aspirations of taking him on. In his book, Against All Odds, Norris writes, “People often ask me, ‘How do you stay in such great shape?’ Truth is I must work at it, just like anyone else. I get up each morning and work out physically; Gena and I take time each day to read the Bible, pray, and exercise.”
“Run in such a way to win the prize…I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
(1 Corinthians 9:24, 27)
When we wear out our bodies, we don’t get another one. Are you preparing now to finish strong later? Ask God to show you how you can love him with all of your strength, then make whatever changes are necessary to get and stay healthy.