In eight months something major will happen to me: I’ll turn 30. Some of you who are older may laugh because you have already hit bigger milestone birthdays. Some of you who are younger may think turning 30 makes me old (and that makes me wince). But most of us would agree that turning 30 is a big deal. Doing so means that my twenties are behind me. And even though I don’t think being 30 makes me old, I wouldn’t categorize it as a young age. Youth is leaving me, which means that my body will keep gradually changing as it ages. I’ve started to notice these subtle changes over time. My metabolism has slowed down. I don’t have as much energy as I used to have. My ability to eat a bunch of fried food without my stomach hurting has shifted. My body is not the same.
While there have been moments where I’ve mourned the changes in my body, I have also felt the desire to take care of my body well. As I get older, I want to do the best I can to maintain a healthy body and remain as strong as I can. So while it has required discipline, I try to eat well. I prioritize exercising each week to the best of my ability. And even though I would much rather chug cups of coffee, I pour myself glasses of water instead.
I don’t say these things to put myself on some sort of fitness pedestal. Rather, my desire is to emphasize that taking care of our bodies is important, no matter what age we might be. I do want to add, though, that there are definitely certain challenges people face when it comes to taking care of themselves.
Some people have a particular condition, disability, or prognosis that makes it complicated to take care of their bodies. If you are one of those people, this blog is in no way meant to shame you. You are loved no matter what bodily issue or obstacle you may experience. But why is it important to take care of ourselves? And more than that, how does the gospel inform the way we take care of our bodies? By showing us that our bodies are given to us for God’s glory.
How the Gospel Informs the Way We Take Care of Our Bodies
Have you heard the phrase “your body is a temple?” Sometimes people use this phrase as a joke, but others actually use it to point out how precious and important our bodies are. Many may even use this phrase not knowing that it comes from Scripture. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.”
If we are in Christ, we have the Spirit of God dwelling inside of us. Just as God’s presence used to dwell in the tabernacle and temple (Exodus 40:34–35, 1 Kings 8:10–11), now God’s presence dwells in our bodies. We are living temples. Paul makes it clear that the truth that our bodies are temples shapes what we do with our bodies. Rather than doing whatever we want with our bodies to please ourselves, we use our bodies for the Lord.
Romans 12:1 also speaks to this truth by saying, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” Both 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 and Romans 12:1 confirm that it is in light of the gospel that we use our bodies for God’s glory. Because of our amazing salvation and transformation through Christ, we desire to use our bodies in a way that praises and honors the Lord. This includes actions of obedience, but it also includes stewarding our bodies well.
Our bodies are gifts to steward for God’s glory. Thinking about our bodies in this way can allow us to have the right perspective when it comes to taking care of ourselves. This perspective can be something along the lines of: “My body is a gift, and I’m going to care for it and use it in a way that pleases the One who gave it to me.” Having this mindset keeps us from taking care of ourselves solely to impress others or feel good about ourselves. While there is nothing wrong with feeling good and healthy, having our primary motivation be about how we look can cause us to care more about our own glory than the Lord’s.
This is why it is so important to look at our bodies through the lens of the gospel. Doing so allows us to celebrate results and progress in our health by seeing that progress and those results as enabling us to glorify God. Doing so inspires us to take care of our bodies so we can serve God and others well. It encourages us to praise God for the bodies He’s given us, no matter what they look like or the limitations they may have. And it even challenges us to take the time to rest, knowing that glorifying God with our bodies also involves not pushing our bodies beyond their limits.
As we aim to glorify God with our bodies, with the help of the Spirit, we do so looking to the day when God will make our bodies new. Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, those of us in Christ will experience our bodies being completely transformed in the resurrection to come (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). This reality can comfort those of us who experience certain bodily limitations and weaknesses. One day, our broken bodies will be completely restored. And yet, these bodies will still be our bodies, which means that the bodies we have presently matter. So let us continuously see our bodies as gifts to steward for God’s glory, using them to serve Him well while also anticipating the day they are made new.
Additional resources on the gospel and body image: