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Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. - Romans 12:1 (NIV)
I love Southern comfort food! Who is with me?! I love a plate full of fried, buttered, gravy-smothered food that started somewhat healthy from a farm and gained a couple thousand calories on its way to the table. For most of my life, my metabolism let me eat until I couldn’t eat anymore and suffer little to no ill effects. Eventually, though, that kind of eating catches up with you.
For some, food is merely something to give us some energy to get on to what’s next, and for others it’s a toxic, all-consuming daily battle with a lot of pain and history. Whether you could care less about what you eat or resent what you’ve become as a result of food, God has something to say about it. Like all things in life, God, as our Designer and loving Heavenly Father knows that our appetites and approach to His good gifts can quickly become distorted.
Scott talked to us yesterday about the truth that we are called to offer ourselves, physical bodies and all, to God. Food is one of our most basic needs—the fuel for our bodies—and yet it can become something that we run to for support beyond sustenance. Food can be an emotional coping mechanism that is a broken replacement for the only thing that can fuel us fully, God Himself. This week we will put our focus on our approach to food and ask God to open our eyes to His perspective about what we eat.
Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2 (NIV)
The verse above has 10,000 worthy applications. The application focus for today is food. Paul’s life was RADICALLY changed by God and His Son Jesus. Paul’s conversion was unthinkable at the time it happened and after following Jesus he penned the words, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” It’s more than likely we should all change the way we think about food.
Food is fuel. When God designed us, the energy source He supplied us with was food. He also made us creative beings and gave us dominion over the Earth, and so since the beginning of time, we have innovated with food. Like so many of our innovations, some have been good and some have been bad. Our common experience in the USA is that food is, for most, plentiful. It ranges in prices but is very inexpensive relative to the rest of the world.
Given our collective access to food, what do you think about it? Do you think about it? Since food is fuel, are you filling your body with good fuel or bad fuel? We read Romans 12:1 yesterday and it’s clear that our body is a living sacrifice; how we use our bodies is an act of worship. So what are we filling our bodies with as the fuel for our living act of worship?
In light of all of this, I encourage us to talk to God about what we eat.
My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course. Do not carouse with drunkards or feast with gluttons, for they are on their way to poverty, and too much sleep clothes them in rags. - Proverbs 23:19-21 (NLT)
Do you have that person in your life who is blunt? The person that says it straight, no varnish, and you are taken aback by how clear and usually how right they are about something? Maybe you are that person. You see something clearly, state the truth about it, and don’t blink an eye. That’s what the above verses from Proverbs 23:19–21 describe: The unvarnished truth about an aspect of life that might hurt a bit.
Proverbs are a collection of general wisdom and truth from one of the wisest men to ever live, Solomon. Most are written in a way that reads like advice from a father to a son. This good old-fashioned wisdom is included in the Bible for a reason. We need strong doses of Truth to help us live according to God’s will.
The writer of this Proverb had observed a lot of life and noticed that people who eat and drink too much generally end up ruining their lives. Before you get defensive and point out all the “successful” people you know that eat and drink too much, think about the point being made. In this example, when most people drink too much and eat too much their lack of self-control comes out in other destructive ways.
Have you been hurt by poor eating and drinking habits? Do you know someone who has? What we eat and drink and the self-control we exercise related to this is no small thing. A recent best-seller titled Make Your Bed was written about how small successful task-completion leads to major benefits in your life. God doesn’t want you inebriated or gorged and groggy. He wants your energy maximized for His glory and your good.
The most important thing you do in the coming weeks might just be to get control over what you use to fuel your body. God might want to save your marriage by seeing you gain control over your physical health. He might want you to be the example your kids need to see so they gain discipline they need to succeed in life. He might want you to lead a small group for people who will live more productive years of life because discipline in eating and drinking is a key that unlocks the door to spiritual breakthrough. Don’t believe me, consider why Jesus instructed His disciples in fasting.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. - 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
It’s true that when you surrender your life to Christ nothing is off-limits. I’ve been a Jesus-follower most of my life and it’s this reality that is THE MOST challenging aspect of it all. God didn’t force Himself on me, but once I let Him in He doesn’t leave me alone… and that’s a good thing.
In one of the early churches, there was a cultural clash with spiritual repercussions. Jews, many of whom made up the Church in Corinth, were together with former pagans (gentiles) who used meat as part of their pagan worship practices. This meat was sold at the store and Jewish Christians would not think of eating it while many of their newly converted gentile brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t see anything wrong with it. It’s true, too, that some gentile believers remembered their pagan ways and didn’t want anything to do with it either. So, Paul includes instructions about what to do, landing on it’s best to be mindful of other believers and do our best not to hurt their faith (1 Corinthians 10:32–33).
In the middle of this complicated issue rose a timeless truth. The truth is that, whatever we do as Jesus’ followers, we’re engaging in some form of worship. We’re either bringing glory to God or we aren’t. When we roll into a drive-through, we’re either bringing glory to God or we’re not. When we’re spreading peanut butter and jelly onto white bread for a sandwich, we’re doing it for the glory of God or we’re not. When we sit down to a fantastic steak dinner, we’re either bringing glory to God or we’re not. (A trip to Waffle House is a chance to worship God too!)
Whatever we eat or drink is a chance to bring glory to God. Through our self-discipline, our vocalization of gratitude for our food in prayer before a meal, our generosity through hosting a cookout, and every other way you can approach it, we get a chance to point people to God’s goodness in our lives. So, you might pass on a cupcake because you know you need to or you may eat one in celebration of a dear friend. As Paul says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Don’t you realize 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. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NASB)
With two rowdy boys in the house and an 80 pound “puppy” that loves to chew everything up, I walk around the house, DAILY, counting up in my head the price of everything that gets broken or chewed up. I know what I paid for that ruined hat, that chair, couch, pair of headphones, video game controller and on and on the list goes. I like to keep my things nice and ready for use the next time but I’m fighting a daily losing battle.
In today’s verses we began with Paul pointing out some of what I feel. He’s reminding us that we aren’t our own; as followers of Jesus we were bought with a price. The price that was paid for us was Jesus’ death on the cross. This transaction wasn’t simply a spiritual transaction. He purchased all of us and, as Paul points out, our bodies were included. We can’t divorce our spiritual being from our physical bodies and so when we abuse our bodies we are defaming God’s redeemed creation.
As we’ve discussed, food is fuel. And what we use to fuel our bodies should be something we give God full control over. This isn’t a diet-your-way-to-happiness message; it’s simply a challenge to myself and to you to consider what it is we eat, our motivation for eating, and to surrender it all to the Lord. I am so thankful that God created variety and has given us creativity in food preparation and I’m praying that we can all honor God in how we eat.
Today, thank Jesus for His sacrifice on the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to move in you and give you the strength you need to have good discipline in what you eat. *If this is a big struggle for you, it would be wise to reach out for professional counsel. Fill out this form for a recommendation from us.Share Tweet