Don’t Diet!

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23

Sometimes we take a godly principle like treating our temples or bodies as holy and therefore try to be healthier and then turn it into self-worship. This can be accidental (oh, Lord, take away our pride!), but it’s something we should be aware of and change. Why do we submit to the world’s rules of what we can and cannot have and eat rather than to the Holy Spirit’s? Why have we read more weight loss theory than books of the Bible?

What are some diets you have tried to lose weight? I lost a good bit of weight on the South Beach Diet where I severely restricted myself on carbs. BUT, I put it all back on and then some when I stopped dieting. While most diets do produce some results, when people choose to end the diet plan, they gain even more weight back than what they lost. The following verses remind me of this truth: Luke 11:24-26: “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” Have you ever dieted and then gained more weight back, ending up worse than you began?

I hear people talk about food being the issue (why does it taste so darn good?). BUT, I’m discovering that food is not the problem or the enemy. We need food to sustain us, and God tells us that we are to enjoy His gifts with a thankful heart. The problem is actually our focus on the food (or gift) rather than the Giver. This morning I read in Luke 12:22-23 “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” Instead, we are to seek His kingdom (verse 31). For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (verse 34).

Are we treasuring food more than God? When we’re dieting, I think we spend so much time focusing on healthy recipes, planning our meals, counting our calories and examining carbs that we forget to focus on allowing God to satisfy our soul hunger with knowing Him more! He alone is worthy of my time, thoughts and concentrated efforts. Does that mean I keep on sinning and overeating or doing whatever I want? By no means! That simply means that my focus has to be on Christ, who was my original motivation anyway. Moreover, He alone is the only One who should be worshipped because of our weight loss.

As if God were writing to us (oh, yeah, He is!), my favorite verse was “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their HARSH TREATMENT OF THE BODY BUT THEY LACK ANY VALUE IN RESTRAINING SENSUAL INDULGENCE.” Why don’t diets work? Because they don’t get to the heart issues where we overindulge ourselves in food rather than running to God when we feel empty.

Dee Brestin (2007) explains in A Woman of Moderation that “You can restrain the flesh for awhile, but when it is let out of its cage, it rushes to its prey. Our real problem is not food, but that we have made it an idol. We worship it instead of God. That is what our sin nature is bent on doing.” Then later “What is it that makes me want to eat an entire gallon of ice cream or want to have a late night snack that turns into an all-you-can-eat buffet? The answer is, I want to indulge my flesh. My flesh cries out to be gratified, and I, lacking self-control, indulge it. That is the problem. Food is not the problem.” “We allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that indulging the flesh will satisfy us…[but] only God can meet our deepest needs.”

The bottom line is that God’s Word is the ONLY thing that can change our bodies. I’ve come to the end of myself on this weight loss journey. I’ve tried going about it the world’s way, and I only ended up heavier, more hopeless and well on my way to being morbidly obese. When I finally have had enough of ‘me’ and put my faith, hope, trust and love in God, I know He will make me healthier for His glory because I am His workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Some day I’ll get a new heavenly body. If I’ve only focused on the one I’ve got now, my journey will have been in vain. But, if I try my best to follow God’s commands for this current body while focusing on getting to know the Lord more and more, I’ll get more out of this life and the one to come.

So, my advice would be to read the Bible and forget dieting. It’s not bad to know what’s healthy for you, but allow God to be your focus rather than things of this world. He’ll reward you… and isn’t that what we’re looking for?

Dear Heavenly Father, please take these words and make them what You desire to be read. God, it’s only Your Word that is life changing. May we not be focused on ‘self-worship’ or things that seem to have some form of wisdom but rather on Your Word, which can save us from sensual indulgence and make us more like You. Father, please forgive us and rid us of pride and sin. Make this journey about more than just weight loss. May we know You more, seek Your kingdom, be more like You and glorify You with our bodies, where Your Holy Spirit dwells. We love You and worship You alone. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

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