Becoming a Woman of Moderation
I think God takes gluttony seriously when He says in Proverbs, “put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.” (23:2) Even as I write this, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight is an area of my life that is still a work in progress. I have been active all my life, and I’ve exercised regularly, either walking or going to the gym, and this seemed to maintain my weight reasonably well until my mid-30s. After I quit smoking, I joined the gym using the same amount of money I spent on cigarettes per month to pay for the membership. Unfortunately, I still managed to gain 14 lbs. I remember my pastor’s wife saying that when you overcome one bad habit, it seems there are five more that pop up right behind it. Weight gain was hiding behind smoking cessation.
To add insult to injury, I managed to gain another 16 lbs. over the next few years, leaving me with a total weight gain of 30 lbs. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 became convicting verses: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I want to have more of an appetite for the Lord than for the things He created.
In 2010 I facilitated a Bible study by Dee Brestin called Women of Moderation. God is the Creator of my body, and surely He knows what will make it the healthiest, so it only makes sense to look to Him for answers to weight struggles. The thing I lacked the most was motivation. To be honest, we all know how to lose weight, but it’s having the consistent desire to do it that is missing in most of our lives. I was no different. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.” He gives us the will, or desire, to please Him, and then He gives us the ability. I prayed that God would give me the desire to do this, and He has been answering that prayer by giving me the desire to be healthy and work out regularly.
I also pray almost daily that He will make me a woman of moderation. He loves to answer prayers like that! It has become apparent too that we don’t make our health care decisions in just doctors’ offices or hospitals alone. We first make them in grocery stores and restaurants. My deepest needs can either take me to food or take me to God. But God desires and is able to bring true healing. I cannot deliver myself; I’ve already tried. However, a great truth that encourages me is the fact that His Word states that self-control is not an act of the will but rather a fruit of the Holy Spirit for which we can pray.
I remember shopping at Wal-Mart during my lunch hour one afternoon and resisting the urge to buy chocolate Teddy Grahams. At the time, these little cookies were a great temptation since I could eat nearly an entire box in one sitting. I managed to leave the store without buying any only to turn around before I reached my car to head back in and give in to that temptation. I stopped in my tracks as I recalled the verse I’d learned the day before, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) I repeated that verse out loud as I fought the Teddy Graham war.
The Living Bible puts it this way:
“I can do anything I want to if Christ has not said no, but some of these things aren’t good for me. Even if I am allowed to do them, I’ll refuse to if I think they might get such a grip on me that I can’t easily stop when I want to. For instance, take the matter of eating. God has given us an appetite for food and stomachs to digest it. But that doesn’t mean we should eat more than we need. Don’t think of eating as important because someday God will do away with both stomachs and food.”
The popular saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” seems better stated, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.” The goal of being skinny is not my main focus. Life is a valuable gift from a loving God. I strive to honor the Giver of the gift of health with the way that I treat that gift, my body. Romans 14:20 has become one of my favorites: “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.”
Surely this struggle with overeating and obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. in the last several decades. I know I’m in good company when I chide myself not to look to food for answers to emotional pain. They are not there. In fact, food causes more emotional pain. Restraint means that if I am going to live in victory, I have to learn to say “no” every single day, more than once a day. Our pastor, Steve, once remarked, “One of the main things we struggle with is learning to balance the pleasures and blessings of life.” “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)