I have an anchor scripture that has been foundational in the faith part of my journey to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This past week it has been on my heart with a new facet of understanding for me. I love that about God’s word – it is alive! Because of that, a scripture that I think I have all figured out is able to speak into other areas of my life in a fresh way.
The scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:23 and I am going to share it from a few translations because they each have something to offer.
Everything is permitted, but everything isn’t beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn’t build others up. (CEB)
The Amplified Bible, of course, goes a little further and says:
All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
In this age of grace that we live in, we are not under the laws that tell us what we can eat. It is all permissible. I don’t have to have a prayer meeting before I get in the buffet line. I do not have to worry that I will be served food that is not permissible for me.
However, when I am in that buffet line, what I should be thinking is, what foods are beneficial to me? What foods are going to fuel my body, provide nutrients to keep me healthy and strong so I can carry out God’s plan for my life? What is going to satisfy me?
I can choose to fill my grocery cart with processed food, and empty-calorie junk food. I’m still going to heaven. But…am I honouring the temple God gave me (this physical body)?
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CEB)
If after eating these foods I have a sugar crash or feel unwell, will I be able to do what God asks me to do – whether it be singing on the worship team, visiting those in hospital, doing my best in the office or keeping up with my family?
Now before you start thinking that I eat only whole foods in nutritionally perfect portions – hold it right there! I get cravings for pizza and cookies and at times I will choose to eat them. I will try a friend’s new recipe at small group. I eat birthday cake at parties (many times I share it with my husband because I know the tenth bite tastes the same as the first). I am free to eat what I want and God still loves and accepts me – but I want to eat what is beneficial for me.
Keeping this scripture in mind has helped me more times than I can count when faced with cravings or food challenges. I am certain it can help you as well.
As I mentioned, I thought I had this scripture down pat and had dug all the spiritual nutrition out of it that was there. Oh, no. Last week I was thinking about how I spend my days (that’s the planner girl coming out again) and thinking of choices of TV shows, books, social media posts and conversations I partake in. None of it is bad per se, but what is beneficial – what is strengthening me spiritually? Again, I am not suggesting legalism in any way because that can discourage or divide people. What I am trying to do is to think about God being included in that social media post, that conversation, book or movie. If that is not comfortable for me, then maybe I should make another choice.
When I look at this scripture in the Message translation, it illuminates another facet – let’s look at it:
Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
The last sentence grabbed my attention – We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
So while I want to be a conscious consumer whether taking substance into my physical body or my soul, I need to be aware of how this affects others as well.
A challenge I have is with “food pushers” – “oh one piece of cake won’t hurt”, or “I made it just for you”. While I am not unmovable with food choices, on the whole I choose very intentionally. However, I have to balance this with love. I have strategies I use to help me in these situations but ultimately I don’t want to crush the loving gesture of another. This is where sharing with my husband comes in very handy!! This helps me grow in love, being aware that my relationship with the giver of the food is more important on this occasion, and helps the giver grow as well – being hospitable or showing love through cooking.
When it comes to what I consume in my soul, not getting involved in debates on social media keeps me peaceful, but I am also looking out for others. Maybe someone is watching to see how the “Christian girl” will respond. Maybe taking a stand and letting someone know I would rather choose another movie to watch will help them make a soul connection and grow spiritually as well.
In my journey to be healthy physically, I progress one choice at a time. Spiritually, the journey moves forward the same way. We are all only one choice away from getting back on track or moving closer to the goal. Isn’t that amazing?
God cares immensely about this journey we are on and He will guide you on that next choice if you simply ask. What’s for supper? What’s on Netflix? How do I respond to that controversial Facebook post? What is my reaction to someone that let me down? Making the next step towards what is beneficial is just a prayer and a decision away.