Many people today are interested in food and fitness. In America are diets are very unhealthy and our lifestyles are overly sedentary. More and more people are overweight, out of shape, and in poor health, physically and emotionally (the two are connected!).
Consider these key Bible verses on food and fitness. I developed this for a small group that was encouraging one another to devote their bodies to the Lord as his temple. (All verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
GOD WANTS US TO TAKE CARE OF OUR BODIES
God’s blessing of good health begins with our souls
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2).
The Lord guides us into healthy living, watering our lives like a garden
“The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
Our bodies are sacred temples for God’s Spirit
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Honor your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
HEALTHY EATING HABITS
Using food for comfort isn’t helpful
“Food does not bring us near to God” (1 Corinthians 8:8a).
Think before you eat: What am I feeling? How much do I really need?
“When you go out to dinner with an influential person, mind your manners: Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite” (Proverbs 23:1-3, MSG).
Bring your anxieties to God (not to food)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Worrying about food wastes time and life
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life” (Matthew 6:25-27).
When lonely look to God for “family” connections (not to food)
“God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6a).
Natural foods straight from the earth are healthiest
“The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness” (Psalm 24:1, NKJV).
To nourish your body and appearance eat vegetables and drink lots of water!
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way… ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:8, 12,13,15).
EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL
Jesus and his disciples walked and talked often
“[Jesus and his disciples] went to another village. As they were walking along the road…” (Luke 9:56-57a).
Walking can open our eyes to God’s presence
“Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country” (Mark 16:12).
Physical training can positively relate to spiritual training
“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NLT).
Physical exercise is good for us. Spiritual exercise is especially good for us!
“Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8, MSG).
IT TAKES DISCIPLINE TO BE HEALTHY
Avoid compulsions (including with food) of all kinds to honor God
“‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything… Therefore, Honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:12, 20b).
Discipline is the road to the good life
“The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good” (Proverbs 10:17, MSG).
Hard work pays off; chasing fantasies doesn’t
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (Proverbs 12:11).
We need to put good intentions into practice to profit
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Moderation is the key
“Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags” (Proverbs 23:20-21, MSG).
HEALTHY LIVING HAPPENS IN COMMUNITY
We need each other, especially to overcome our weaknesses
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
We need deep understanding from God (and the Body of Christ)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
If we confess our struggles to each other and pray together we’ll heal and grow
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV).
We need loving feedback from others in the body of Christ in order to grow
“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:15-16).
THE SPIRITUALITY OF HEALTHY LIVING
Healthy living begins with healthy thinking
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8, MSG).
More than anything else we’re hungry for God
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” Matthew 5:6, MSG).
We need to feed our souls with God’s Word
“People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God” (Matthew 4:4b, NLT).
Fasting helps you to focus on God (and it’s good for your physical health)
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well” (Matthew 6:16-18, MSG).
WE GROW IN HEALTHY LIVING ONE STEP AT A TIME
We all need patience. We may also need warning, encouragement, or tender care.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT).
Monitor your progress by comparing yourself to your past and not to others
“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else” (Galatians 6:4).
Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress
“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG).
Sometimes we need to wait to sense God’s presence and help!
“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work” (James 5:7, MSG).