by Melissa D’Arabian
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I’ve found myself stuck in a no-man’s-land of wanting to eat healthy but somehow slipping into eating a specific diet just to be prettier. The world wants us to love our bodies by changing them, but Jesus wants us to love ourselves unconditionally. I wish it were that simple!
My goal hasn’t always been making my body the best temple for God. There’s a fine line between eating healthy and exercising as a way to worship God and care for His temple, versus eating healthy and exercising to “be pretty” or admired by the world. The behaviors look very similar, but they’re different in a crucial way: One worships the Creator, and the other worships the world He created.
God created us in His image, and He loves us deeply. If I received this love fully, my natural response would be tremendous gratitude for how He made me. Yet if I’m honest with myself, for much of my life I haven’t been grateful for my body.
The best way I can describe my attitude toward my body was a grumpy acceptance of the sub-par lot I had drawn. I’ve always joked about having “childbearing hips” — long before I ever knew I’d birth four girls — or about my tendency to gain a pound just by looking at a holiday pie. Harmless self-deprecation, I thought. Do you do this too?
All these tiny jabs are not directed at ourselves; they are actually directed at God. He tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and then we respond by essentially saying, “Your handiwork is just not good enough for me.”
What would happen if we were grateful for our bodies instead? What if we dared believe that we truly are complete in Christ? What if, when we looked in the mirror, we saw ourselves through God’s eyes and saw the beauty He sees? What if we simply chose to see our beauty, trusting that God’s eyes are more qualified than our eyes and society’s eyes?
It sounds simple, but the familiar shame easily creeps in. Quit eating and get back to the gym, whispers the voice in my head. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
All lies. And the worst kind of lies: half-truths!
Skinny, slender, thin — all mere adjectives, innocent descriptors, but they have morphed into a synonym for beauty. We have Satan to thank for that. Satan works his best evil in sneaky half-truths. Why? Because outright lies are too obvious. We all know not to read those emails that say, “Lose 25 Pounds in 5 Days!” But a cleverly worded ad that is seemingly written by a well-known medical professional saying, “Eating this one food will change your life!”? We might fall for it if it contains some elements of truth.
Scripture refers to Satan as a schemer and deceiver. Yet instead of writing ridiculous emails from the other side of the world, he writes clever ones from email addresses that sound legit. By taking a tiny nugget of truth and wrapping it up in a big fat lie, he works his way into our hearts. We cling to the tiny particle of truth as we swallow the whole ugly package.
Sure, I want to be healthy and fit — admirable goals — but I have to stay super close to God to discern whether I’m aiming for the world’s admiration or God’s. The nugget of truth here is that we’re created to eat healthy, to move our bodies, to eat with a level of discipline and to avoid gluttony. But Satan regularly twists the notion of eating healthy food and exercising into a huge lie: the thinner, the better! Is that a lie you believe too?
Navigating this slippery slope lined with half-truths is tricky business. So we must do battle with this truth: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Eating healthy to worship God is different than eating healthy just because I want to be pretty or admired. We can know the difference only by staying vigorously and purposefully close to God through daily prayer and time with Him.
Dear God, thank You for creating me exactly the way You wanted me. Help me honor Your temple through all of my actions, and help me see the beauty You see. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.