EARLEY: What does the Bible say about taking care of my body?
The negative psychological effects of the quarantine are well documented. The physical effects have been just as devastating. The number of cancer and heart disease diagnosis has dropped way down. People are not going to the doctor to be tested because of their fears. In general people are not taking care of themselves physically. A quarantine study from Evidation Health had 160,000 U.S. participants, including 68,000 with fitness trackers, found that people are moving less and sleeping more.
We need to take care of our bodies, but the cultural preoccupation with our bodies is idolatry, and God hates idolatry. Anorexia, bulimia, depression, and self-loathing are the devastating byproducts of this idolatry. I think being beautiful by cultural standards is of little significance to God.
Can the Bible help us have a healthy attitude toward our physical health and fitness? We read in I Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” And then again in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “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.” Our bodies play a key role in the Spirit’s work in our faith. Modern medicine has shown us that we must take a holistic approach to understanding our health. That means that as we take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually the stronger we will be in each of these areas. They all support each other.
Also, we read in I Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” This reinforces the importance of making good moral and ethical choices to stay strong as a whole person. We can’t eat, drink, and be merry without it affecting the other parts of the person God wants us to be.
In Job 31:1 we read, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” God has a spouse chosen for each of us if marriage is His plan for us, but it is important for us to take good care of ourselves so we remain attractive to our spouse. Men struggle with wandering eyes and turn to pornography and strip clubs which become gateways to infidelity. Women struggle with the search for the perfect man and turn to chat rooms and romance novels with the same result. Couples must guard their marriages by only noticing each other in romantic ways. Healthy bonds between husband and wife include the physical, emotional, and spiritual development of ourselves, just like healthy life choices do.
When we are stronger we are better able to serve the Lord in certain areas. For example, some forms of mission trips require much strength and stamina. If we are able to perform in these areas, then we open doors for God to use us in ways that we are unable to if we allow ourselves to become physically weak and overweight.
I close with a comment about times in our lives when we will be physically weak. There are certain to be such times. Our exercise routines will get lost in the struggles of life, or we will become sick, or our bodies will age to the point we can no longer exercise. In all of these times it is important to remember that the most powerful work we do for the Lord is prayer. There are times God allows us to encounter physical problems so we will slow down, and focus more on Him. The elderly members of our church have been our most faithful and powerful prayer warriors through the years. As long as we have breath, and a mind to contemplate the Lord, we have important work to do through prayer to strengthen our church, protect our pastor and church leaders, and discern the will of God.
Have you let your physical health go during this quarantine? Be honest with yourself. Don’t cover yourself with guilt. What would be a good plan to start getting back in shape? Who can you do it with? Who will you let hold you accountable? Commit your new health commitment to the Lord in prayer, and see if that doesn’t help you experience success! (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org).