It’s that time of year when every magazine begins touting its bulge busting tips for the New Year. Headlines promising to help us “Drop Two Sizes” and “Shrink that Belly” give us hope that someday we’ll fit back into those once-upon-a-time favorite garments we out grew years ago. It’s a hope that, for many, quickly turns into guilt and defeat when those promises don’t pan out because of our busy lifestyle or lack of will power. And even when we do see the benefits, they don’t seem to last, leading us right back to where we are today—at the beginning of a new year, resolving to get healthy yet again.
It’s a vicious cycle.
I’m sure if done with some sort of regularity, any of the popular workout regimens, such as P90X and Cross-Fit, produces results. Heck, even if I just started eating more fruits and vegetables, I’m sure I’d see a positive impact. It’s not so much the method of getting healthy that’s problematic; it’s my motivation.
For me, wardrobe goals and tighter abs don’t outweigh the comfort I find in foods that are high in sugar, sodium and fat. Neither do the potential dire consequences of over indulging in them. Why else would I be going on three years of failed attempts to get healthy despite experiencing some of those consequences, including depression, hair loss and reduced mobility?
Maybe you can relate in your own way.
So what if we changed our motivations entirely? What if instead of working toward better health for us, we did it for The One Whom Dwells In Us? What if instead of wanting tighter abs and a perkier tush to glorify ourselves, we treated our body as the temple it is to glorify The Lord? What if we stopped seeking comfort in food and instead sought comfort in Him?
Maybe the muscle needing exercise is just as much spiritual as it is physical.
Changing our motivation from physical to spiritual may sound like a small distinction, but truly it is an important one. I’ve noticed that my ideas regarding health change with cultural norms, stress levels or mood swings. When I’m weak and give into temptation—be it the convenience of fast food or another glass of wine—I can justify my choices by pointing to my constantly evolving circumstances. I even go so far as to tell myself, I’m ok with the status quo; my health could be worse. And of course, as a result, the status quo becomes my new norm that continues to erode.
But God is the same today as He was yesterday and will always be. His standards don’t change. If I align my choices with what is pleasing to Him instead of what is temporarily pleasing to me, I don’t have to spin my wheels rationalizing my bad choices. Instead, every choice becomes a simple act of obedience or disobedience—one that indulges the Lord or one that indulges me. Making a healthy choice is no longer a matter of my will power, but rather an opportunity to be lead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Look, I don’t think it makes one bit of difference to God whether we eat a hot dog or celery stick. But I do know that He cares about our wellbeing and wants the best for us. He has provided us what we need to maintain our health while on earth so that we can effectively do the work He has sent us here to do. The more time, money and energy I spend dealing with the consequences of a poor diet, the less I have to care for my family, let alone anyone else God puts in my path. If Jesus resisted temptation to the point of sweating blood, certainly through Him I can resist a few unnecessary trips to Chick-fil-A®.
God doesn’t expect perfection; He expects us to seek The Perfector. No more beating myself up for diet-don’ts or missed workouts. I don’t have to give up just because I mess up. With God at the helm, there is Grace—a greater motivator than any old pair of tight jeans could ever be.
So that’s my plan this year, to seek the Lord as I resolve to improve my health (Well actually, it’s more like His plan.). With over 50 bible verses on the subject, I’ll have plenty of encouragement along the way. If you’d like to join me, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to pray for you as you pursue your own New Year goals.