Today’s Guest Post on Physical Stewardship comes from my wife, Gina Masters. She has been the driving force behind our quest to honor God with our bodies.
Update April 23, 2012: Gina has now started her own blog on this subject. After reading this post, check out free to be, food and me.
Cleaning the Temple
by Gina Masters
“A person without self control is like a city with broken down walls.” -Proverbs 25:28
Have you ever felt God calling you to change an area of your life, but you just didn’t want to? Maybe you prayed about it from time to time, but never took any action? This is how physical stewardship was for me. My husband and I had spent the last three years clawing our way out of debt with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program and during that time, in our darkest hours, I used food to comfort me. Plus, bad food is really cheap and on our limited budget the $5.55 Hot n’ Ready pizza from Little Caesars was the best bang for our buck some weeks.
I actually prayed about changing this area of my life for two years before doing anything concrete about it. Then, in January of 2011, it finally clicked. If God wanted us to be good stewards of our money, and I was willing to manage every dollar we spent with a monthly budget, close the purse-strings when the money ran out for the week, and remain accountable to my husband in order to protect us from going back into the dark places of debt and despair, why wouldn’t I be willing to do the same thing with my physical health? I had seen God’s incredible hand of provision when we followed His Word about money, so when I stepped back and looked at my physical life, I saw someone who was as irresponsible with physical stewardship as the “old” me was with money.
When it came to food, I lacked self-control in a big way. I was the person that couldn’t be trusted to stand near the buffet table. I constantly ate past satisfaction—often times until I had indigestion. When something good happened, I ate! When something bad happened, I ate! I saw no consequences for my overly-indulgent appetite, though the ever increasing size of my waistline told a different story. I had fooled myself into thinking I was still the same skinny adolescent that I had previously been. That is, until I began to experience the physical pains of my poor eating habits.
I had gained 30 pounds and had everything in my closet from a size 8 to a size 16. I was in terrible pain for almost a year with hip and low back aches, which I now know was bursitis. In the back of my mind, I knew this was my consequence for taking such poor care of myself. I knew that I had to resolve to lose the weight and break free once and for all! It was around that time that 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 spoke to me in a whole new way:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple 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 body.”
My body is the home of God! When I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit made its home in ME! Can you imagine God in the flesh coming over for dinner and having a messy home?! Not a Christian I know wouldn’t clean from top to bottom if they knew this was the case! I could no longer deny it. If I wanted God to continue to bless my life and give me His very best, I had to honor His temple.
We often refer to giving our bodies to God as a holy and living sacrifice (Roman 12:1-2), and I love this verse. But I actually find incredible encouragement in the words that follow:
“…This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I could not change my behavior with food until I allowed God to transform the way I thought about it. Sometimes we think worship is just the singing we do on Sunday morning. But serving others is also worship, giving is worship, and so is taking care of our bodies. God’s will is not for us to blindly stuff ourselves with things of this world. We are to use food to fuel our bodies for the work He has called us to do and let His Holy Spirit fill us with everything else we need for this life.
It took me over a year with a proper diet, regular exercise and prayer for conviction of change, but I lost all of the excess weight. The physical pains went away and I have an incredible “why” for continuing on this path that far exceeds the lure of vanity. It’s important to remember that as Christians in America, the world is watching us all the time. At our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, and throughout our communities we are representing God and the freedom that comes from following Him. I pray that you will seek God to experience the same freedom in your personal health that the great patriots of our country have fought to give you in America.
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© Joshua J. Masters and American Psalms, 2012.