June 21, 2004
Encouragement for Today
What to Eat? – Part One
Rachel Olsen, Member of Proverbs 31 Speaker Team
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” Romans 12:1 (NLT)
Just a decade ago the majority of our country firmly believed that a low-fat, low-protein diet was the best way to eat. Move over eggs and bacon, hello bagel with fat-free cream cheese. Grocery store shelves were stocked with “light” and “fat-free” products for the millions of Americans counting their calories and fat grams. Today, however, those same store shelves are lined with packages marked “high-protein” or “low-carbohydrate” for the millions of Americans now counting net-carb grams in an effort to eat healthy.
I teach public speaking classes at a local university where each semester at least one student gives the class a speech on why they should become vegetarian or vegan. Some tout it as a more nutritious way to eat, while others tout it as a more humane way to eat.
I too have tried a few eating plans in recent years – the Zone, First Place, South Beach – in a quest to improve my physical self. As far as losing weight goes, all of them worked for me because I paid more attention to what I was eating and made more effort to drink water and exercise. As far as which diet was best for my overall health, well that is a matter of great debate among doctors, nutritionists, the US government and devoted followers of each plan. Taking a cue from Paul in Romans 14:1-4, I’m going to refrain from offering my opinion:
Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won't. And those who won't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should. (NLT)
Paul goes on to assure us, “I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat” (Romans 14:14 NLT).
However, Paul doesn’t exactly advocate a daily diet of Little Debbie cakes and Hostess Twinkies, no matter if they are “reduced fat” or “reduced carbs.” In 1 Corinthians 6:12 Paul has an imaginary conversation with us:
You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (NLT)
I’ve experienced first-hand that chocolate, in any form, can become a mighty slave driver! We all have our comfort foods. What is it you regularly crave? Salt? Sugar? Caffeine? When we repeatedly turn to food for help in times of stress, rather than to the Lord, both our body and our spirit suffers.
In Romans 12:1 Paul pleads with us to “give your bodies to God ... let them be a living and holy sacrifice” (NLT). In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he challenges us with this powerful notion:
Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (NLT)
Allow me, then, to offer this biblically-based advice to guide our diet choices:
- No food is inherently wrong to eat.
- We should not become enslaved to any food.
- Your body is the temple of God, a dwelling place for His Spirit.
- God made your body, and entrusted it to your care.
- Jesus, with his body, paid a high price for you.
- You can honor God with your body.
- You can dishonor God with your body.
- Choose wisely.
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, thank you for the provision of my body and the variety of foods that fuels it. Forgive me for dishonoring you, at times, by not taking care of this body. Forgive me also for making certain foods an idol. May I remember that my body is your dwelling place, and treat it accordingly. Help me to make better choices as I eat, and as I feed my friends and family. In Christ’s name I pray.
Make a list of things you can do to better care for His Temple – drink more water, improve your eating habits, make a doctor’s appointment, make a dentist appointment, stretch, exercise, commit to monthly self-breast exams, etc. – then pick a couple to do today.
Do you view your body as your own, to do with as you please?
If you do not care well for your body, do you believe that you are the only one you hurt?
Scripture states that your body belongs to God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and also to your husband if you are married (Ephesians 6:31).
Think of your general dress and appearance, intimacy levels, fitness levels, and cooking or eating habits. Then ask yourself the following questions:
How well are you are currently honoring your heavenly husband Jesus with your body?
How well are you are currently honoring your earthly husband with your body?
Proverbs 31:14-17 “She is like a trader's ship, bringing food from far away. She gets up while it is still dark and prepares food for her family and feeds her servant girls. She inspects a field and buys it. With money she earned, she plants a vineyard. She does her work with energy, and her arms are strong.” (NCV)
Matthew 15:11 “You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do." (NLT)
Isaiah 38:16a “Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health.” (NLT)
Proverbs 4:21-22 “Don't lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.” (NLT)
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