1 Corinthians 6:12-20 is a sobering reminder for me to think about my body. If I focus upon keeping it happy, I’ll end up feeling good; but the feeling will soon give way to guilt or disappointment if I overindulge. I also have to be careful not to become its slave. Paul is straight forward in his letter to Corinth, but I handle his letter with kid gloves or ignore it completely because its message hits too close to home for comfort.
Food and/or sex tempt everyone. Christ knew about temptation and so did Paul. Both hope to help me see my body in a new way. I was very discouraged and disgusted when I got on the scales this morning and more so when I put on a pair of favorite jeans that no longer fit. This scripture was in my path, so I decided to stop ignoring it and listen to what God had to say.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.
Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (NLT)
It’s easy to look at these verses and only see sexual sin, but Paul is talking about anything that prostitutes my body. Food is beginning to do just that because I’m turning to it for comfort and paying the price for its comfort. Overeating, drinking too much, or anything that dishonors my body says I’m not grateful for God’s gift. My body is His temple, and I forget that far too often. I don’t belong to myself, and I need to remember that God paid a premium price for me. I’m His.
Honoring God with my body does mean that I will not engage in sexual immorality, and that covers a great deal of territory. It also means I will not turn to food for gratification. I haven’t fasted in a very long time, so I’ve almost forgotten how clear and clean it makes me feel. I’m afraid I’ve fallen into a pattern of eating for eating’s sake. Mindless eating leads to numbness, and numbness leads to lethargy. I don’t want to fall into that trap because it steals the joy God has in store for me.
I want the unity Paul describes, and I won’t find it if I’m more interested in satisfying my body than being one with God’s. He wants me to enjoy life and all the goodness He provides. He doesn’t want to punish me; He wants to provide the very best. Paul’s cautions are not a lecture on morality unless I make them so. He is simply saying what I already know but ignore because I don’t want to change my comfortable habits.
God knows depending on food, sex, or anything else to satisfy my body distracts and causes me to wander from the path He knows will lead to the best life for me. It isn’t a life of want, it is a life where my wants wither and His will fills. What I want is always less than what He wants to give me. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean I should. I never imagined Paul’s letter to Corinth might help me see eating in a new light, but that’s exactly what it did this morning 🙂