2004-06-01 - Overweight Issues
The Summer Question Series, 2004 #1
1 Corinthians 9:27, "But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified."
I would like to thank the many of you who submitted questions. They came from literally all over the world, and I was very encouraged by the response. I will do my best to get to one each Tuesday. Some of the questions we have covered in years past and are available in the devotional archives. Some of the questions are new to this yearly series. Today is such an example.
Question 1: "I am dealing with overweight issues, and would like to have scriptural guidance to help remove the spirit of gluttony. I am hesitant to discuss this with my pastor at this time for personal reasons, but would appreciate any scriptural insight."
This is an issue that many struggle with. It is not too far from the truth to state that we are an overweight, indulgent society. I can't imagine that this is pleasing to the Lord, for several reasons. One we find in Romans 12:1, where we are urged to "present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God." Psalm 119:70 and Jeremiah 5:28 put a negative light on being fat, and while both these verses might be taken metaphorically, there is something of a principle to be derived here, because being fat is associated with negative connotations. Proverbs 23:1-3 suggests we put a knife to our throat if we have a great appetite. Lastly, Philippians 3:19, places an uncontrollable appetite as characteristic of those who have fallen away from the faith and have constructed a false God.
The Scriptures are fairly tough on this one, and I admit that I have taken these passages in their worst possible light regarding this topic. However, there is a principle here, and it is that the Lord has given us the body we live in (Our "tent," 2 Corinthians 5:4). In order to serve Him as long as possible, we need to take care of it. Being overweight hinders our ability to serve Christ, because the more overweight we are, the more our ability to effectively serve is hindered. Being overweight causes fatigue sooner in our activities and can simply prohibit our ability to even attempt to do certain things. Being overweight also shortens life. It can lead to diabetes, heart problems, and a host of other ailments. It is not incomparable to the experience of someone who smokes. The life expectancy of a smoker is 13 years less than that of a nonsmoker.
That's the negative, and it was hard to write, because I know that many struggle with this, and their struggles are real. For many, it is not that they have not tried to lose weight. In fact, many have tried every program available and had no success. I don't know much about Weight Watchers or the other groups and their methods, but there are some principles that I think can help someone lose weight.
Before you take my advice on losing weight, you should probably consult a physician. He/she will be better able to understand what you should and should not do. Losing weight takes a lot of discipline. It will also require sacrifice. It may require, and probably should, the habits that led to the weight gain be reversed.
Fast food should probably be eliminated, and that includes those new "healthy" salads that make us feel that we are being healthy, when in reality, we enjoy them because they are loaded with sodium. It may be that steak needs to be substituted with fish. Portions can't be of the "Hungry Man" size, but rather smaller portions must become the rule. Fresh fruit and vegetables should be substituted for sweets and chips. Canned fruit and vegetables are loaded with salt. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a little better. Fresh is best. Someone with whom I used to work used to tell me, because I drank a lot of water, "Water washes the fat right out of you." Water should be substituted for juices and soda. Exercise has to become a regular part of the daily routine. Exercise will build muscle, and muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat.
To lose weight really requires a change of lifestyle. Old habits have to die, since they are the habits that caused the problem, and new habits have to be formed. In that sense it is much like sanctification, where we seek to purge sin and put on the righteousness of Christ. It is, as it were, a sanctification of the body. It may require that there are times when you are hungry and have to simply endure the discomfort of hunger pains. However, the payoffs of a healthy lifestyle are worth the effort. Heaven will be a wonderful place, but we need not hurry ourselves to get there. By taking care of our bodies, we can be of useful service to Christ before we enter into His rest. By taking care of our bodies we can grow in, and cultivate our relationship and communion with the Lord longer before we meet Him. This will make that meeting sweeter than ever.
Thank you for your question. I hope some of what I have written is helpful. I know it is a tough issue, and it is also one that is on the minds of many people. Thanks for taking the bold step to put it out there.
Soli Deo Gloria,