One area of personal discipline so many of us lack is concerning food. Oh, this is a touchy, touchy subject! To be clear, I am writing this from the perspective of one who is preaching to herself. I stand in judgment of no one but myself. You should know that I once had an under-eating problem, a self-indulgent eating problem, and frequently struggle with my own weight. I still crave too much of all the “wrong” foods. I’ve grown out of and back into my clothes more times than I can count. I am not a good exerciser anymore because I have a damaged ankle and knee. I like walking outside, but only under the perfect conditions. I don’t like to sweat, and I don’t like to smell. You can see how this could lead to tipping the scales at a weight that is uncomfortable and unhealthy.
As Americans, our food and caloric intake is an area where many of us have lost our senses. As I look around I am alarmed at what I see. Ladies, a lack of physical discipline in the area of food and exercise is one area of our lives that we cannot hide. This is one issue that takes a great amount of self-control in order for us to be balanced and successful.
Balance is important here! We don’t want to be slaves to our bodies or a diet and yet, we cannot neglect this physical temple if we are to have the energy and ability to do the work the Lord has for us to do.
I have learned it is a conscious decision to submit my will to the Holy Spirit’s leadership in this area. I want Him to have all of me, and so I am intentional about surrendering my passions, urges, and appetites. I have to run to him so as not to fulfill the lusts of my flesh that go beyond the needs of my body.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31 (NAS)
Plan to Succeed
To be successful, I have learned I must make a plan to succeed. I avoid buying things I know I will overeat like cookies, pastry, chips, and crackers. When I know there will be a dessert at a function, I prepare myself in advance for the temptation to overindulge. Usually, the dessert table is the first place I go. I want to know my enemy. If there are things I dislike, I am relieved. If there are things I really like, I have to take my thoughts and desires captive and pray. It’s not that I have no dessert, I just know myself: I will want too much. Sometimes I will ask someone to bring me one item so I am not faced with the temptation. When I am eating a meal out at a restaurant, the first thing I do when my food arrives is cut everything in half and push it to the side. I take the other half home for lunch the next day.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV)
This, like everything else, is an issue of the heart. My desire to honor God by how and what I eat must be greater than my desire to feed my sinful flesh. This is something every Christian woman is called to do regardless of her age, dress size, or stage of life. It is very difficult for many of us to develop this mindset, especially in the church! We have become accustomed to pot-luck buffet meals where we pile our plates with thousands of calories because it all looks so good!
If we are sincere about honoring God with all that we are, a new attitude and approach to how much and what we eat is in order. I am not advocating any specific diet plan or exercise regimen, because I believe that is intensely personal and it is wise to visit with a medical doctor before beginning either diet or exercise. Primarily, you must realize that this is first a heart problem. If you have a weight problem, you are seeing the fruit of your heart of idolatry, rebellion, lack of self-control, self-indulgence, and possibly other issues that are specific only to you. When I am over-feeding myself, I know it is for one of the aforementioned reasons. I want what I want, and God’s glory is not relevant to me in that moment. That is a shocking self-disclosure, but I know it is true. This is how I know that this is where change must begin.
Perhaps you have come under some conviction today. If so, I suspect it is necessary. I urge you not to file this away under “later” in your thoughts. Spend time with the Lord praying about that conviction and then take steps to deal with your heart and the actions that are flowing from it. It’s not too late! You can start today!