Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own.
I Corinthians 6:19
Do you love ice cream? I do. Do you have a sweet tooth? I do. Do you sometimes eat too much? I do. Do you balance your eating with proper exercise? I don’t. And that’s a problem. Today’s message is as much for me as it is for you.
There are actually two problems with poor eating and not exercising. The first is a physical health problem. If you don’t eat right and don’t exercise, you are destined to have poor health.
The second, and in my opinion, more serious problem is a spiritual problem. Saint Paul tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies were created by God, not by us. They are meant to honor God. When we abuse our bodies—because we over eat, or drink too much, or don’t exercise. When we deface our bodies because of sexual promiscuity, or tainting our eyes through pornography, or if we use drugs—all of these things dishonor the body that God created for us. And when we eat unhealthy and don’t exercise, and we cut our lives short as a result, we also fail to use fully the talents the God gave us so that we may glorify Him and help one another. If, instead of working for forty years, I fall into poor health after twenty, I have failed to use half of my talent.
Now, if our bodies are temples that belong to God, what does that make us? Does that make us tenants? I would argue that tenant is not the right word. Because in a real estate sense, the tenant never takes as good care of the property that belongs to the owner. Tenants tend to depreciate property. That is almost expected. So, we are not tenants, who are “expected” to depreciate our bodies.
The correct word for our relationship to our body is that we are stewards. We are temporary caretakers. We are caretakers of a temporary body. Now, does a steward give 100% of everything to the owner? The answer is no. The steward can take some joy, it’s not supposed to be all sacrifice. With this in mind, there is nothing sinful about having an ice cream, or eating a piece of pizza. There is something sinful about eating an entire extra-large pizza, or eating ice cream every day. There is nothing wrong with having a beer, but there is something wrong with having ten of them in one day. There is nothing wrong with sitting on a couch and watching television, but there is something wrong with never going for a walk.
So, what is the balance? As I meditate on this question, I think of the temple where I serve, the church of St. John in Tampa. If you look carefully, you’ll find some dust somewhere. You’ll find a cloth askew. You’ll probably find something silver that can stand to be polished. We even got some damage on our dome that needs to be fixed. But overall, the temple is in excellent order. It is clean. It looks very reverend and respectable. It is not perfect, but it is very good. I take special care to keep the altar clean and tidy. It is a conscious effort, it doesn’t happen automatically. I don’t spend hours upon hours cleaning the altar. Rather, every day, I go into the altar for a little while, to pray, and to look and make sure things are in order. Before every service, I make sure the altar is ready.
If we (and myself the first) took this kind of care with our bodies, if we treated them as altars, imagine how more reverend and respectable we could be, in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God. We will never be perfect. But effort and consistency are the things that make for a good body. Spend some time each day (or every other day) and exercise. Walk while talking on the phone. Park your car farther from the door. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Limit your intake of alcohol and junk food. Eat out less. Eat more salad. Drink more water. And it’s not only what does into our mouths that matter. We need to watch what our eyes see, what our ears hear, what our mouths say and what our hands are doing.
Make a conscious effort to take care of your temple. And make it something you think about daily. Be accountable to someone, make a health journal, whatever helps your discipline of maintaining your “temple” on a consistent basis. Most of all, remember that our bodies our not ours to do with as we please. They belong to Him. They were given to us by Him. We are supposed to use them to glorify and serve Him. And one day we will answer to Him for how we used them.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my body. Thank You for a heart that beats, for eyes that see, for ears that hear, for a mouth speaks, and for hands that move. Help me to have the discipline to use my body to glorify You, to see my body as Your temple. Safeguard my mind, that is may direct my body to live a life of moderation and reverence. Help me to have discipline in my moments when I am careless. Surround me with people who will encourage me to keep my temple clean. And may I also serve to encourage others as well. Amen.
Honor God by taking care of your body today!