Well, it’s that time of year again. The sun is warm, the grass is growing, the birds are singing. And I become painfully aware of how much weight I put on over the winter. So now, not only are my legs white enough to signal a passing plane, but any part of my body that will be even remotely exposed is flabby.
I’ve struggled my whole life with excessive weight. By the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 200 lbs. A few years ago, I would have given anything to weigh 200 lbs. again; at 5′ 2″, I was pushing 315 lbs. At that point of no return, I gave in and had gastric bypass. I got back down to 200 lbs., which was still more than I should have weighed by at least 40 lbs. That was the first time I realized my post-surgery honeymoon was over. Now, a full 30 lbs. heavier, I feel like a failure.
Like most people who have “struggled” with addictions like food, drugs, alcohol, I use the word “struggled” with more entitlement than I have a right to. The truth is I never struggled that much. It was much easier and more pleasant to just give in. Overeating is hands-down the easiest addiction to get by with. After all, everyone eats. If you hang around with the right people, you can actually bond over excessive eating sessions – like the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving, Easter. And I’ve never met a server at a buffet who’s ever cut me off because he thinks I’ve had too much. I’ve never gotten pulled over or ticketed for overeating. I’ve never overheard others whisper in that patronizing voice, “You know, they say she eats until her stomach hurts.”
But I know. No matter how much I try to comfort myself with those magic words – “I shouldn’t, but…” – I know I’m making a mistake. I know I have no self-control. But that’s my problem right? My family loves me just the way I am. God loves me no matter how big I get, right?
Yes. God loves me. He loves me enough to have sent His only son to pay my price for sin. He loves me and forgives me again and again and again. He has justified me and sanctified me. Galatians 2:20 ESV tells me, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Just think: Christ lives in me! The problem is, at 230 lbs. there’s not much room in this body for anyone else! Know what I mean?
But I have to acknowledge that I am under new management. Most of us are familiar with what 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV has to say about our bodies: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” And trust me, no one could possibly look at this body, at the way it sits sedentary, and say it glorifies God.
Unfortunately, God doesn’t give us specific rules for what to eat and what not to eat. In fact, all 1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV has to say about it is: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” So, yeah, I can eat whatever I want. It’s for me to decide what is helpful to my body or if it will build up my body. Fortunately, I’m not stupid. I know what’s good for my body and what is bad for my body. I know what will build up my body and what will tear it down. I don’t even bother to argue over whether this particular chocolate with this specific percentage of cocoa actually has beneficial qualities. If I eat enough of it, I’ll get fat!
The problem I have is that I don’t take seriously my responsibility to take care of this “temple” in which Christ lives. I still think it’s mine to do with what I want. But it’s not. And here’s the final test for me as to whether or not I should eat something or in what amount I should eat: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV) I would have to be insane to think I could hold up a bowl of chips and dip and truly proclaim to another person, “I eat these chips for the glory of God!” Could that be more insulting to God? And yet I do it day after day, choice by choice.
It’s my prayer that I become more aware of my responsibility to treat my body as purchased by Christ when I choose what I eat or drink, knowing that if I make good choices, I will be healthier and more capable of doing what is good for God’s kingdom. After all, as soon as I gave my life to Christ, I was under new management!