Friday, January 11, 2013

changing your habits for God's glory

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Oh, don't we all love a new year? January brings a fresh start for many of us. We are motivated to change, and dieting and exercise are two of those areas in our lives that we want to change for good.

I think we all start the new year with good intentions, but then easily fall into our old habits after a few weeks, because we get busy and go back to our default patterns. It's human nature, and it happens to everyone at some point. :)

But I also think sometimes we fail at making new habits because we leave God out of the picture. We subconsciously separate our life into spiritual and physical realms, thinking God only cares about our spiritual lives, and we are left to do the rest on our own. Or we start out strong seeking God's will, but let our own motives supplant the Truth. {"I am determined to lose these last 5 lbs., no matter what it takes"... I'll own that one}.

If you're trying to make a lasting change in your habits, I believe it's very important to examine your heart, and give God complete control over your life. Here are three ways I think we can do that:

1. Understand your heart motives.
You might start a new year with writing down your goals for changing your habits, along with your why- the reason you want to make the change. But more important than figuring out your why, is understanding what God wants for your heart.

It's important to seek the Lord's face when you are seeking to change your life, even in the physical realm. Ask Him to show you your motives- it's important that you aren't trying to serve yourself instead of Him. {I've done it the wrong way enough times to know, it only brings you misery in the end, and opens up the door for other sin to come into your life. Trust me.}

Lots of Christian self-help and dieting books place healthy living on a pedestal as high as living for Jesus. I think we secretly like it that way, but I just can't believe it's that important. I'm sorry, no bodily discipline is ever going to get anyone to a higher standing with God. Healthiness is not next to godliness. It's not Biblical. {healthiness is also not listed a fruit of the spirit. ahem. :D}

You can do nothing to deserve the grace God has given you. Don't try to earn it {or keep it} with the way you treat your body. God decided when you were born, and He has decided when you will die. You can be healthy, but you can't change that day with good food no matter how hard you try.

For me, my battle often comes down to 2-5 lbs. Seriously. I can give myself all kind of grief and obsess over the smallest changes in my body. But what does that have to do with giving God glory? In my heart, nothing. I'm trying to make my body look beautiful to the world, instead of my heart to Him. It's too much love of myself, and it's a sin and a distraction from serving God.

What's your aim? To feel better? To better use the body been given for the glory of God? I whole-heartedly believe that exercise and a good diet will make you feel better and have more energy.

I think our bodies were made to eat good food from the earth and to work all week physically. That's why it feels so good to do it! It's just important to make sure your heart is in it for the right reasons. Don't let healthy eating or a number on the scale become your god. Only one God deserves that title.

2. Remember what's truly important.
Knowing what to eat and how to work out is helpful when you are trying to change your habits. We have the entire internet at our fingertips, but I feel like we already know the basics- eating real food that God created is good for your body, because He designed it for us!

I definitely don't believe eating processed foods is anywhere near sinful, but I think it's becoming quickly apparent that it can be harmful to our bodies in the long-term. For me, processed foods simply don't help my body to function at it's best.

But I try to remember there is grace there, not law. :) What we eat doesn't matter- it's the state of our heart that matters.

We can all enjoy Doritos and ice cream and love Jesus like crazy. We don't have to exercise every day. It's awesome, because we are free in Christ. He didn't leave us with more laws for caring for our "temples" so we can better serve God. You know what I mean? He freed us from those laws!

Understanding the truth makes such a difference in so many ways- with food, and in your heart. Sin and the law has no power over you, because life lives in you. Live for Jesus, and not for yourself, and things will fall into the right priority.

Eating good food and exercising is great and all, but having those good self-discipline habits will never be even close to the highest priority we have on this earth. Loving God and loving people are the truly important things.

3. Ask God to show you what to change.
I can't say it better than this:

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

He will help you navigate what is good for you and your family, and I think it's safe to say the only source of information you can truly trust is His Word. Don't take anyone else's word for what you need to do in this area, including your own heart's. It will try to trick you into making things important that are not, as well as the reverse.

I can't say it enough- Jesus is our everything, you guys. Don't try to do anything without Him. He knows your heart, and He will guide you and show you what truly matters in the realm of self-discipline. He loves you, and is your Heavenly Father who will provide everything you need. :) 

How have you seen Jesus working in your habits for His glory? Have you seen Him change your opinion of what's really important in your life? I'd love to hear!

articles about dieting/fitness:
battling the discontentment/dieting cycle: you’re not alone
examining our hearts in eating

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