What normally motivates us to treat our bodies well? Two things: looking better and feeling better. We need a deeper motivation. And I believe the deepest motivation is worship. Sounds strange, I know, but stick with me for a minute…
It’s never a question of whether we worship; it’s always a question of what we’re worshiping. And one question that reveals what we worship is this: “When I need deep comfort and satisfaction, where do I turn?” By that definition, if I’m brutally honest, I sometimes worship Ben & Jerry’s. I’m not proud of that, but honesty is the first step toward change.
Now, let me be clear: indulging in good food and drink is a gift from God, to be enjoyed gratefully and guiltlessly. But, as with any good thing, that enjoyment can cross the line into abuse, obsession, or even addiction. The Bible calls that idolatry, and when I’m dishing out my third bowl of Ben & Jerry’s that’s a pretty good hint that I’m entering that territory.
In Jeremiah chapter two, God confronts His people for their idol worship: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13). Here’s what he’s saying: “If you worship and serve me, I will quench the deepest thirsts of your heart. But if you worship other gods, you’ll find yourself drinking from a cistern.” (A cistern is a hole in the ground that collects rainwater, which quickly turns into a mud hole).
In other words, when we worship false gods, we’re trading a bubbling spring for a mud puddle.
So tonight, when you’re tempted to grab a pint of Chubby Hubby (or Guinness Stout) and sit down to watch TV, you’re going to say: “Wait a minute. I’m about to drink from a mud puddle. This is not going to satisfy me.” And you’re going to choose instead to grab your dog, or your spouse, or your ear buds, and go out for a 45-minute walk around the neighborhood.
And that walk will be a sacred thing. It will be an act of worship. Because by making that decision, you will be speaking this silent prayer: “God, I trust that you will fill me and satisfy me more than any food could.”
When you make this a habit, will you look and feel better? Probably. But far more importantly, you’ll be aligning your deepest self with the only One who can satisfy you. That’s not self-help, self-discipline, or self-improvement. It’s worship. It’s the one motivation that can transform the way we treat our bodies…and everything else about us.