The Bible never ceases to amaze me in its address of every human need or concern. Our Creator cares even about how we tend our bodies. While the Bible says nothing of our weight or physical appearance, it has much to say about our actions and motives concerning our bodies. This should inform how we consider our bodies, our health and how we engage culture.
The Bible says that where our treasure is, there also is our heart. In 2012, the weight-loss industry’s revenue was $20 billion. Before you spend another penny on fad diets, expensive gyms or the next get-skinny book, consider where your treasure is. Consider who has your heart.
There is no shortage of self-help books out there, marketed by “weight-loss gurus”, many of them professing to have the biblical “secret”. Is this true? Listen with me as the Bible opens up on diet and exercise:
Does the Bible really hold the “secret” to “your best body”?
Before I progress here, let me begin with a caveat. I’m not blasting any weight-loss program specifically. I don’t know all the practices each one endorses, nor do I have any idea of their success rate. More precisely, I want to consider our motives, emotions and needs that drive us to pursue them.
What does God say about weight, food and exercise?
When I first considered that question, my assumption was–very little. But with only a simple word search, I was astonished by how applicable God’s Word is to even the most seemingly vain and insignificant elements of our lives.
What does the Bible say about physical activity?
It’s humorous if you step back and consider what modern America does to stay fit: we climb on various contraptions at the gym, flip giant tires and swing around heavy chunks of metal. Exercise is not bad; the Bible actually endorses physical activity. Biblically, it is something that should fit seamlessly into our lives of service and worship:
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17).
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).
Also biblically, it should be kept in perspective:
“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).
What does the Bible say about diet?
As a recovered anorexic, I take great interest and joy in the way God talks about food as a blessing. Modernity often takes a negative look at food: either it is consumed with abandon and almost worshipped, or considered a necessary evil. But what does God say?
We can glorify God by eating. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Food ultimately has no power. “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8).
God intends food for our joy! “And wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:15).
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).
Food is not to be idolized. “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:18-20).
God’s Word is our ultimate nourishment. “But he answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “ (Matthew 4:4).
The Bible never ceases to amaze me in it’s address of every human need or concern. Our Creator cares even about how we tend our bodies. While the Bible says nothing of our weight or physical appearance, it has much to say about our actions and motives concerning our bodies. This should inform how we consider our bodies and our health.
What do you think about culture’s obsession with weight-loss and diet? Have you found yourself overly consumed with your own physical appearance? What can you do to refocus your priorities and sincerely commit your heart to the Creator?