I am learning a hard lesson. No matter where you are, unhealthy habits are easy to form. As a dad of three beautiful kids and an assistant pastor at an awesome church, I have learned that life can get really crazy really fast! And before I know it, I can form unhealthy habits in the rush of it all! Habits like…
Reaching for candy while trying to finish out the workday.
Not eating breakfast because of a rushed morning.
Being glued to my phone because I’m over-obsessed about a project that needs to be done.
These are habits that form in the subtlety of the moment and can greatly impact my health. The Bible says, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).
Notice the Holy Spirit’s emphasis. We are commanded to glorify God in body and in spirit. There is much to say about forming spiritual habits of Christ-like devotion and discipline, but I believe we often neglect physical disciplines as a part of our service to God.
Your body is a temple. Let that sink in for a second. It’s a place of worship: an instrument in the hand of God. I think we often just don’t see it that way. We see our bodies as our own and everything else as His. But we are bought: purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. One day we will be given a new body; but for now, God has gifted us with a temporary body which we are called to steward. So, the question really is…
How do you steward your body for Christ?
That’s kind of an odd question, but I believe it is a necessary one. What physical disciplines do you have that make it easier for you to serve the Lord? What are you doing right now with your health that greatly impacts your walk with Jesus? Let’s be honest…
You want to be around for your kids.
You want to be healthy enough to enjoy your grandkids.
You want be able to serve God in the highest compacity every day.
You want to be healthy and holy in your stewardship of your body and spirit.
Well, here are a few building blocks that will greatly propel you forward on your health journey. They are simple habits that, if done prayerfully and with the right mindset, can bear much eternal benefit for the glory of Jesus!
1. Pray about what you eat.
Say what? I know I’m supposed to pray for my food, but you’re telling me I should pray about what I eat?
This sounds a little weird, but the next time you open that pantry for a midnight snack, ask God what you should eat. Now I’ll be totally transparent…I stink at this! It’s so easy for me to just grab something out of the cabinet that I want; something I’ll enjoy and not even think twice about. But one day it hit me,
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
This strikes at the heart of our human desire. We need food to survive so therefore, we don’t see food as potential idol. It’s just what we do. But I think that’s why I Corinthians 10:31 is in the Bible. God is tapping into our basic human need and saying, “Hey! Be careful. Even something as small as food can become an idol!” Look at the verse in context of chapter 10 and see that Paul is speaking to the church all about idol worship!
Ouch! I am responsible for the things I put in my body. Every decision I make about my diet, should be a decision guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Even if it’s covered in chocolate and caramel.
On the practical side of your health, there are a few small changes that can really go a long way in the type of food you consume. Here are a few basic suggestions:
Taste your food before you salt it.
Pack your lunch once or twice a week instead of eating out.
Leave snacking to all the nuts out there. Really! Nuts are a wonderful source of protein and calories. Although high in unsaturated fats, they can serve as a great source of vitamin E and fiber.
Save eating out as a treat. (1)
2. Get up and get moving.
Imagine for a moment that someone you love is about to cross the street. She looks both ways and proceeds to the mailbox. But she doesn’t see the truck barreling down the road at enormous speed. She is in great danger and you’re the only one that can help her. You quickly get up from where you are seated but find it hard to move. Your muscles are weak, and your joints feel welded shut. You try as best as you can, but you just can’t get to your loved one fast enough.
I know this is an extreme example, but think with me for just a moment. We have been commissioned by Jesus to share the life-saving news of Christ to a lost world around us. “Go and preach…” It is the duty of every believer to be actively engaged in the transformation of another. But how can we tell if we cannot even go? How can we share God’s love if we are not up and moving?
Understand that I am not berating those with disabling physical ailments or those who are well up in years. I am speaking to those who are able but have allowed ease and comfort to rule their bodies.
One of the greatest habits you can form is some type of physical activity. The CDC claims that, depending on your age, the average person needs about 30 minutes of exercise each day or 150 minutes each week (2). Now that sounds like a lot but recall the last time you spent 30 minutes on your phone.
In fact, the average American spends 5-6 hours on their phones per day. That’s up to 2,520 minutes every week! Well over the 150 minutes needed to exercise.
Here are a few suggestions on how to be active and have fun as well:
Take a walk and talk to God. This is one of the most refreshing things I have ever done in my Christian life. It engages my mind, heart, and body all at the same time.
Workout with a friend or spouse. One of the most refreshing things my wife and I did last year was work out for about 20 minutes in the mornings together. The value of starting our day together and the accountability we gave each other was a great asset to our health and home.
Stretch out while listening to your favorite podcast or playlist.
Whatever you do, get up and get moving! Your muscles won’t get stronger on their own!
3. Rest your body and your mind.
I’ll be honest. I love sleep. There is something amazing about the ability to fall into a deep state of slumber in 3.5 seconds. That’s right! Go ahead and be jealous but it has been my super power for as long as I can remember: on the bus on the way to a game, a short trip to the grocery store, even in a room full of people chatting away. You say the word and I’m off to counting sheep.
It’s a proven fact that rest is essential to your health and heart. It is vital to the machines of the body and necessary for mental cognition and focus. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs seven or more hours of sleep each day. Ah! Sweet music to my ears. But let’s not forget that sleep is also biblical.
We see this when God, who needs no rest, took a day off on the seventh day of His creation. Why? To show us an example of Sabbath rest. To remind us that there are seasons of labor and seasons of settling down and moving at a slower pace. It is natural and right. But God did not set this special day apart just for our physical health, but for our spiritual health as well. The seventh day is the Lord’s Day. It implies that we rest our bodies and refocus our minds and hearts on Jesus.
I believe there are many people that have difficulty resting their bodies because their minds are not at peace with God. Their heart doesn’t know what it means to sabbath. They are restless…
Fears cloud their mind and causes them to doubt God’s goodness.
Worry drives their body to feel sick and tired.
Anxiety creeps in the back door, leaving them isolated and helpless.
My friend, Jesus has not made you for restlessness. There is a way to have rest; yes for your body, but even better…for your soul. This is why I wrote the book, Restless: Finding Rest in a Restless World. There are so many aching hearts that are living on the fumes of doubt and fear, desperate for a change.
Look what Jesus says about our rest:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus wants us to steward our health for the glory of God, and this stewardship means rest is essential: spiritually and physical. Developing the right kind of health habits right now in your life could mean the difference between a good legacy and a great one! We have one body. Let’s steward it for the sake of the gospel and the work of the ministry!