There’s something about putting the words “holiday,” “Thanksgiving,” or “Christmas” in front of any particular food that leads me to believe those extra calories won’t do any damage.
But then comes January. There’s always a day of reckoning.
In one sense, God doesn’t care if we are a size two or a size twenty-four. He loves each one of His children dearly. On the other hand, our health matters to Him and He cares about our choices. We should always look for the best ways to care for our bodies so we can continue to “bear fruit” (John 15:8) and honor Him for a long time.
Oddly enough, we can foolishly misuse or abuse our bodies while also being diligent in ministry for the Lord. Two years ago, I was busy morning to night serving God, but I also became a stress-driven, compulsive eater. Excess weight and sluggishness were evidences of the condition of my heart and out-of-balance lifestyle. At first, I simply ate to calm myself. But my food addiction grew.
My subsequent health crash wasn’t just about gluttony . . . add in a lazy lifestyle, late-night work habits, and anxious thoughts. I didn’t get sufficient rest, and each day was filled with an assortment of worries.
I eventually realized all of us have two choices when it comes to healthy living. We can engage in a foolish, unhealthy lifestyle and pay the consequences, or we can wisely steward what God has given us as a sacred gift and seek to please Him with our health choices.
The Bible offers many wisdom principles to help us in that stewardship. Here are ten of them.
10 Truths for Making Healthy Choices
1. Recognize the Lord’s ownership.
“You are not your own,” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20. Surrendering health habits isn’t essentially about us; it’s all about the Lord and His purposes for us. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are not sanctified for ourselves.” We do reap tremendous benefits with good health choices, but the real issue is ownership.
When I first grasped the extent to which God calls me to surrender to His ownership, recognizing that I am His servant and He has the right to tell me how to live, it motivated great changes in how I thought about my health. God desires to lead me in what to eat and not eat, when to exercise and rest, and how to deal with stress. I learned I can trust His wisdom.
2. Pursue God’s glory.
We were created for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31; Isa. 43:7). Whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do, God’s glory should be our prime motivation. If we want to please our Father—just like Jesus did—we will train ourselves for godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). It should be our aim for the world to see God’s glory reflected in our lives.
We reflect His glory as we accomplish the good works He has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10), living in such a way that God’s glory can be seen in simple, everyday activities. We are simple “jars of clay,” but when we are weak, He is strong in and through us (2 Cor. 4:7; 12:10).
We must be careful, because God will not share His glory with others (Isa. 42:8). In my pride, I stole glory from God as I started to reap the rewards of a healthier lifestyle, but He mercifully taught me that I can do nothing without Him (John 15:5).
3. Come to the altar.
Most people go through life taking the easy way, but God calls us to supernatural living. The Bible tells us we are the temple—the dwelling place—of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). And our hearts are to be altars of sacrifice.
Romans 12:1–2 speaks of this when it tells us to present our body as “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” We are transformed when God searches our hearts and renews our minds with His truth. We need to come to God with humble hearts of worship daily.
For years I was ruled by a false perspective on health. Now, as I “come to the altar,” I search the Scriptures and pray for God to search my heart (Ps. 139:23–24), expose the reasons for my anxiety-driven gluttony, and reveal any lies I believe.
4. Step it up!
In pursuing better health, I discovered many areas where I was content with doing the minimum—just enough to get by. It showed up in my lackadaisical attitude about nutrition. Scripture reminded me that in whatever we do, we should “work heartily” (Col. 3:23).
We should aim to do our very best, because as Christ-followers, we “work . . . for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23). Because of this, my motivating motto for growth is now “Step it up!” and pursue excellence.
5. Practice practical stewardship.
We need to steward more than our families, ministries, money, and possessions. What about exercise, eating, entertainment, and other practical areas?
When I decided to tackle my biggest area of weakness—gluttony—I learned to steward my pantry. And my refrigerator. And my grocery list.
“It is required of stewards that they be found faithful,” Paul said (1 Cor. 4:2). I want the Lord to find me trustworthy in the simplest things, including the choices I make for good health. Focusing on honoring the Lord in this way has helped to cultivate an eternal perspective about my eating (Col. 3:2).
6. Develop long-haul patience.
For years, even before my health crisis, I looked to quick fixes for weight loss. But life doesn’t work that way. We didn’t get unhealthy in one day, and we won’t get healthy overnight.
We can get so impatient on our health journeys. But we need to practice godly patience, because the journey is worth it (Heb. 10:36). We can murmur and haphazardly go through each day, or we can be disciplined and decide to “enjoy the ride” and set daily goals (perhaps with healthy, non-food rewards).
To develop the needed long-haul mentality, we must learn to wait on the Lord’s direction and grace so we can avoid getting too tired or weary (Isa. 40:31). He is our strength.
7. Live in freedom.
Real freedom comes in letting go of enslaving habits and surrendering them to Jesus.
Our freedom in Christ is a powerful foundation and motivator. It is “for freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1). In Christ, we’re no longer to be enslaved to anything that leads to death or destruction (Rom. 6:14–16). We’re not to worship at the foot of worthless idols—even ones that taste like chocolate bars!
I knew we cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24), but that’s exactly what I was attempting to do when I tried to follow the Lord and still have my own way. Real freedom comes in letting go of enslaving habits and surrendering them to Jesus.
8. Be an overcomer-in-training.
The Scriptures teach us to spend time and energy in training ourselves, and we need the Lord to teach us how to care for our bodies and grow spiritually (1 Tim. 4:7–8; Matt. 11:28–30).
We have a new reality. The old life is gone, the Bible says, and a new life has begun (2 Cor. 5:17). That new life will bear fruit unto righteousness as we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading carefully and abide in Christ (Gal. 5:22–23; John 15:5). Picture it this way: Jesus has overcome the world, and since the Holy Spirit indwells and is actively sanctifying us—making us more like Jesus—we are overcomers-in-training!
9. Fix your wavering focus.
While driving one day, I was distracted by a beautiful flower field. My “beautiful” distraction almost caused an accident. I needed to refocus on the road!
In the same way, sometimes we need to refocus our wavering thoughts (Phil. 4:8; Heb. 12:2) so we can walk in the Spirit and not get sidetracked by the dangerous and unhealthy “desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16, 25). To stay in step with the Spirit, not wavering, we have to refocus with prayer (Phil. 4:6–7).
10. Don’t worry—God understands.
The Psalmist says, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14).
A fresh start isn’t a matter of shaming ourselves or beating ourselves over the head with a tattered diet book. As Christians, we live under God’s grace, not lists of rules that bring frustration, discouragement, or worse. We are not condemned (Rom. 8:1–4).
I used to think, whenever I failed to follow my nutritional program, Oh, no. I’ve disappointed God again! But that was faulty thinking. God knows my frame, and He knows my foolish choices even before I make them. Remember, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times before it happened (Matt. 26:34).
But God doesn’t want us to linger a moment in our failings. He loves us and knows we are in process, and He will complete His work in us (Phil. 1:6).
In the Lord, every day—not just every new year—is a fresh start.
I’ve learned in those moments to simply observe, repent, correct, and move on in faith. It’s always God’s goodness and mercy that leads us to a changed mind and heart—that leads to a change in behavior.
In the Lord, every day—not just every new year—is a fresh start.
What truths from Scripture are you taking to help you pursue wise, healthy choices in 2018?