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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dead Weight

“Nearly half of the people responding to an online survey about obesity said they would give up a year of their life rather than be fat, according to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. The 4,000 respondents in varying numbers between 15% and 30% also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become alcoholic rather than be obese. Five percent and four percent, respectively, said they would rather lose a limb or be blind than be overweight.”—Yale University Office of Public Affairs article found here:

Is it just me, or is that is crazy?!

All of us know what the world thinks of being overweight. My problem has always been drowning out the voices of the world in favor of hearing and heeding God’s voice on this issue in my life. I know it is not a sin to be overweight. However, in my case, being overweight is symptomatic of sins in my life. In the course of my life, I have indulged in the pleasure of food without regard to the effects of this indulgence on my body. I have been an idolater by seeking comfort or fulfillment apart from God. I have been a coveter and regularly thought “if only I was as thin or as pretty or as disciplined as she is!” I have been lazy and have avoided exercise. I have been selfish in my indulgence and laziness—not caring that my body belongs to my God for worship and to my husband to enjoy, not caring that being overweight effects my energy and physical strength to serve God and others. I have been a bad steward of my health, which is a gift God has given me. I have been greedy with eating poorly, with not making time to exercise, and with buying things to make me feel better about being overweight. I have been deceptive in trying to hide my humiliating sin.

Rather than listening to God’s truth, I have listened to Satan lies—“You’re not an athlete, you can’t do that,” “You can’t change, that’s just the way you are,” “You are disgusting and worthless,” “Your husband will never really love you until you lose weight,” “You’re not that overweight,” “There are worse sins” I know these are lies because Philippians 4:13 tells me “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” As the Lord told said to Abraham in regard to blessing him with a child in old age, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” I know that God does not tell me that I am disgusting or worthless. Rather than turning away from me in disgust, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me! Romans 5:8 says “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I know that my husband loves me because Christ first loved Him. I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” I know that I underestimate my sinfulness and that my heart is deceitful and my sin is deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says,“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” and Hebrews 3:13 says “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today', that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” I know that sin is sin—there are no gradations. As a sinner, I have fallen short of the glory of God according to Romans 3:23. The wages of sin is death. The wages of my sin is death, and Jesus paid that costly price for me. I am grateful to serve a God who redeems, who does not leave me on my own, who changes me, who loves me, and who speaks truth to me in His Word.

God has been growing me in conviction and repentance in this area of my life for the past couple years. My walk through this repentance has been slow, but God has been patiently and gradually changing my heart to bring it more inline with His. I know that in order to get my body to a healthy state, I will need to take restorative measures in the areas of diet and exercise. My cousin, who is gifted in the area of fitness and shepherding, has graciously agreed to help me with a training plan. I want to be pure in my motives for this.

Here are some ungodly motives I must take to the Lord and fight by the Spirit to resist:

1) Buying the lie of the world that being thin is a virtue or would make me more valuable. (This contrasts with Proverbs 31:31 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” and 1 Peter 3:3-6 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”)

2) Wanting the admiration of the world for my own glory and pride (In contrast to: Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory,” Isaiah 42: 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols,” Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”)

3) Idolatry—because losing weight or being attractive has somehow become an end in itself and not a means to glorify God (in contrast to Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.)

4) Works-based theology—thinking I can merit God’s favor by improving in this area of life or thinking that God can love me more or less depending on my success or failure in this area. Romans 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 5: 15 “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Romans 8:1-4 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 11:6 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Galatians 3: 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”

5) Worldly Sorrow—because I am sad for worldly reasons (i.e. because I do not feel pretty or admired, because I want to fit in, etc.), not for godly reasons like the fact that I am not loving God and not loving people in this area of my life. 2 Cor 7: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

Here are some motives that I desire to have:

1) Loving God and loving people—Luke 10:27 “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

2) Living in freedom instead of bondage to sin—Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 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, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Romans 6: 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

3) Not allowing weight issues to distract me from savoring God and blessing people--Hebrews 12:1 ”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

4) Helping and loving my husband by making myself attractive for him and by keeping myself strong and healthy to be his helpmate in life. Genesis 2:18 "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Proverbs 31:10-13 “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:17 “She dresses herself with strengthand makes her arms strong.” Song of Solomon 4:9-12 “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. 10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine,and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! 11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. 12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed.” Song of Solomon 7:10 “I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.” Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” 1 Cor 7:4 "For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."

5) Imaging God and the Gospel and reflecting order and beauty because God is a God of order and beauty. Revelations 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Psalm 96:6 “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 “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, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

6) Exercising faith in God and His ability to change and redeem me. Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Ephesians 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” James 1: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

More resources on this topic:

My friend, Crystal, gave a very helpful talk on the issue of gluttony and body image and it can be downloaded here:

Books that I have found to be helpful on this topic:

The Bible
"Thin Within" by Judy and Arthur Halliday
"Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits" by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for not leaving me as I am. Thank you that I am yours and that you have already forgiven and paid for all of my sin. Thank you that I cannot make you love me more or less because you already love me infinitely and unconditionally. Thank you that you are all powerful and nothing is too hard for you. I confess I have so many bad and worldly motives in my heart when it comes to weight loss. Please forgive me and change my heart. Replace the worldly motives with biblical ones. Fill my heart with love so that I would always be motivated by love for you and others in this. I confess that this is an area of my life in which I struggle with doubt and despair. Please fill me with faith and hope instead. Thank you so much for my cousin who loves you and who is lovingly exercising the gifts you have given in order to help me. I pray that you would bless him for it! Please help me be faithful to you in all things. Fill me with your Spirit. Holy Spirit, please enable me. You are my only hope. I am so dependent on you!! Holy Lord, may you get all the glory in my life and in this journey you have placed me on. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Carrie said...


Thank you for this much of what you shared is exactly what has been on my heart for last couple of years. This is such an area of struggle for me as well as an area that the Lord is redeeming. I pray that the Lord will be your strength as you take steps to let Him lead this area of your life. I'll be sharing my struggles in this area of my life at the January "Gather & Grow" at Grace. If you ever want to pray or chat together, let me know.

Rachel said...

I too have these same struggles. Thank you once again for sharing

Trujess said...

Bina...this is what God has been speaking to me about too...lets talk soon!