Growing up in the South, conversations about body image and weight were almost as common as it was to drink sweet tea—at least in my family. Women would gather, gossip about neighbors and new faces, and exchange comments that sounded like this:
“Did you see how much weight Debbie lost? She looks so good.”
“Oh if only I could lose about 40 pounds, then I would have it made.”
“I am trying a new diet out. We will see if it sticks this time.”
As an impressionable teen, these comments sunk into my soul like butter into a hot biscuit. And then I began to refuse the hot biscuit, pass on the apple pie, and politely decline the carb-loaded mac-n-cheese. I equated happiness of my present and of my future with the flatness of my tummy. Similarly, I equated my worthiness of love with the size of my jeans.
Do these feelings feel familiar to you too? The Lord has been kind and faithful in transforming some of my worst thought habits. But sometimes, crumbs still linger. In these vulnerable moments, I have to cling to the truths of Scripture that remind me that my body is not a mistake to be fixed but a vessel to be cherished.
If we are not careful, our body image can become the idol we worship, stealing our heart’s attention from God. In fact, the conversation about body image is much less about our bodies and much more about our hearts. We place our comfort in false securities—the belief that weight loss or gain will solve our problems.The lies feel all too real. A number on a scale can not save us, only God can.
Here are a few truths to meditate on when the mirror seems to be more of a foe than a friend:
1. Your body was made intentionally
Just as Michelangelo did not haphazardly paint the Sistine Chapel, God did not accidentally form you. There were no mistakes made when He created you. Instead, Scripture tells us that we are remarkably and wonderfully made, that God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13–15). Like a potter molds clay, God molded you. He drew your smile upon your face, determined the color of your eyes, and designed your body just as He desired it to be. Our bodies were made by God, and therefore our bodies are good (Genesis 1:27).
2. Your body has a purpose
Your body was made for more than shame and ridicule. Your body was made to take part in God’s great plan of redemption. There is purpose for bodies, and in this purpose, our bodies have hope.
Seeped in sin, our souls need a savior. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, is that Savior. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we are made right with God. When we accept the gospel to be true, Christ fills us with the Holy Spirit, who is God’s very Spirit that guides, directs, convicts, and teaches His people. God’s Spirit once dwelled in tabernacles and temples, and now, God’s Spirit dwells in us, in our bodies. In fact, God’s Word calls our bodies a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). Within our bodies is the place where God’s Spirit rests.
Somehow, the bodies we feel are so subpar, so misshapen or disproportionate, become vessels of the Holy Spirit. Our hands are repurposed to serve others how Christ would serve them. Our lips are enlivened to sing praises to God and share the truths of Scripture. Our feet carry us to places where we may bring the good news of Jesus. Our muscles and bones and ligaments become powerful assets for Christ’s kingdom. In Christ, our bodies are not purposeless; they are purpose-filled.
3. There is hope for our bodies
There is not only purpose for our bodies now, but there is a mysteriously beautiful hope for our bodies in the future. When we think of eternity, we rightly fix our minds on the joy of praising God without limit or distraction. The world will be new and absent of evil. Sin will be of the past. We will finally experience the eternity that we long for (Ecclesiastes 3:11). But our bodies will also be new. Philippians 3:21 tells us that Christ will transform our “bodies of humble condition” into the “likeness of His glorious body.” Praise God!
Jesus’s glorious body appeared physically to His disciples and many other witnesses after His resurrection. The disciples were able to eat with Him (John 21:13–14) and touch Him (John 20:27–28), yet He was able to appear suddenly (Luke 24:36), wherever He pleased, and vanish in an instant (Luke 24:31). Even with these details of what Christ was like, the details of our new bodies in eternity remain a mystery. However, we do know that “what was sown in dishonor” will be “raised in glory” and what was “sown in weakness” will be “raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). We know that we will share in Christ’s glory. We will take our place as co-heirs of a kingdom that knows no end. We will be too enamored by our Savior to care about a number on a scale. Our bodies here on earth are temporary vessels of a spirit that longs to go home. When we find ourselves discouraged by our appearance, we can call our attention to heaven. The tears we cry will be wiped (Revelation 21:4). The ache of sin in our heart will be soothed. Mourning will be no more. Pain will be no more. Instead, everything about us will reflect in full the glory of God.
Additional resources about a biblical view of body image