Longing for biblical health? Let’s define and pursue it together!
What would happen if you truly believed that you could cast a mountain into the sea? How would your life change if you knew that you knew that all God’s promises are “yes” and “amen.”
If you’re anything like me, you believe that the Word of God is The Truth. And, you’re convinced that it contains the first and the last word of everything that you want to base your life upon.
Yet, so often we outsource our thoughts and opinions to the world and let doubts and fears creep in. Especially when it comes to health and fitness.
What does it mean to be truly “healthy” and “fit”?
What does it look like to have a “good” marriage or a “successful” career?
What does it take to be “good enough”?
When we see our lives through the light of God’s Word rather than the airbrushed billboards of the world, it completely changes things.
In this post, we’re going to break down how true biblical health can affect every aspect of our life and being.
DEFINING PHYSICAL HEALTH
First, let’s examine what it means to be physically healthy.
How do you define it? Probably the first thing that pops into your mind is going to be body weight.
If you were to see a heavy person next to a lighter one, you’d automatically assume (to a fault, I might add) that the thinner one is healthiest. There’s such a strong correlation in our minds between the number on the scale and how “healthy” we are that it often blinds our better judgment.
DOES BODY WEIGHT DEFINE PHYSICAL HEALTH?
Yes, that dreaded number staring at you from that evil little plastic box in your bathroom can represent many things. But, it is not the ultimate be-all-end-all of your physical health.
An individual seen as overweight may have a much healthier body and internal systems than someone who is thinner. A “fit” appearance on the outside gives the perception that everything is just fine, but it is never a complete picture of someone’s health.
You may also gauge your health by measurements… “My waist size is within this range or outside of this ideal, so that means I’m automatically healthy or unhealthy.” Yet, that is also just one small part of the entire person.
DEFINING BIBLICAL HEALTH
You and I are triune beings. That means we have a spirit, a soul, and a body. One cannot focus on just one aspect of this and be truly biblically healthy. So, let’s redefine what that actually looks like for us.
What does it mean to be physically healthy in the light of the things that the Word of God tells us?
Well, I personally would think it would mean that I was strong enough to serve God and able to respond to his call on my life–I can walk, (sorta) run, and get going when He inspires me to do so.
You and I may not be able to run a marathon, but does that mean that we’re unqualified for service? Absolutely not! If you’re physically able to respond to the call that God has put on your life, I’d say you’re “fit for service.”
But, what about physical limitations?
God is gracious and if your body is not moving in the way that you’d like it to now, He will give you a calling that suits your ability.
Instead of getting trapped in measuring states, we want to know:
- Can I respond to the call of God that He has on my life?
- Am I ready, able, and willing to go (knowing that He won’t call me to do something I’m incapable of doing)?
- Will my physical health hold me back from doing all that He has called?
This is a great way to measure how healthy you are, physically.
BIBLICAL HEALTH + MENTAL & EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Now, let’s examine what it means to be mentally and emotionally healthy.
Mental and emotional health is really important in this day and age. So many people, including myself, have struggled with mental illness–things like depression and anxiety, just to name a few.
It’s hard to be physically healthy if you’re not mentally resilient or if your emotions are running the show.
For example, the way we think and react actually changes the way our physical heart works. This happens when stressful thoughts increase cortisol, our “stress hormone.” When this occurs regularly and inappropriately, it can interfere with things such as the absorption of nutrients, the health of our bones, and the quality of our digestion.
To be fully healthy and whole, our minds need to be healthy.
Finally, let’s talk about your spiritual health.
The other aspect of our triune being is spiritual health. Clearly, this is related to biblical truth–our spirits need to be hearty and healthy in order for physical and mental health to happen. There’s a cascading effect.
If your spirit is dry and parched, your mental health is probably suffering as well.
Likely, your physical health is going to be suffering as well, as you’re apt to walk in the flesh and make less wise choices.
When we nourish and make our spirits fat with the Word of God, we’re better able to be healthy in the other areas of our life. I believe that true biblical health and fitness comes from a place where the spirit is ultimately nourished.
The spirit is the eternal part of you, the part of you that’s going to live on forever. When we focus on nourishing that, we’re going to be much, much better off.
BIBLICAL HEALTH MEANS “ALL YOUR BEING”
If you’re honest, you’ve probably been diet shopping lately. And, as much as you can’t bear the burden of another restrictive eating plan, the lure is still strong.
When you’re deciding which “diet” or way of eating is best for you, you’ll want to look at all three aspects.
PHYSICAL NOURISHMENT FOR BIBLICAL HEALTH
As we discussed above, you want to eat to physically nourish yourself so that you’re healthy enough to serve God. This is not all-or-nothing thinking here. It’s not finding an eating plan and eating that way 100% of the time. We’re looking at the way that you would eat most of the time in order to empower you for service.
This is going to look different for each and every person. We can’t judge ourselves by someone else’s decisions, and we can’t judge other people against our own.
God will speak uniquely to you what that looks like. It may have nothing to do with food at all, but to the spirit and the heart that you have toward food.
What you choose to eat and how that impacts your physical body is going to be important. It impacts the call that He has in your life and your ability to respond to that.
EMOTIONAL NOURISHMENT AND BIBLICAL HEALTH
It would be really nice to eat to live rather than live to eat. But, I believe that food will always have some emotional aspect in our lives and that’s totally fine.
In the Bible, we see food as a celebration. The prodigal son is welcomed home with a feast. There’s comfort and celebration in eating and it’s God-approved.
WHEN EMOTIONAL EATING BECOMES A PROBLEM
Eating for comfort and celebration becomes a problem when you try to fill “the space that only God can satisfy” with food. Food may even act as your “savior” in certain situations:
- Has food served as the comforter when the Holy Spirit is to be your comfort?
- Are you turning to a double-fudge brownie when you really need to be making a beeline for your prayer closet?
The way of eating that you choose should nourish your mental and emotional health without impairing your spiritual.
HEALTHY EATING MEETS FOOD FREEDOM
Some of this may be contradictory to what you’ve been taught. If fact, you may be reading this thinking, “I need to cut out donuts and no more fried food! Everything I eat needs to be healthy, healthy, healthy, so that I can prove to God my desire and willingness to serve.”
But you know what? Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to eat “healthfully.” The Bible has declared all foods clean. There’s nothing that is off-limits, and the Word even says that the food rules do nothing to restrain our flesh (Colossians 2:20-23).
Yes, the Lord may direct you to avoid certain foods for health, so that you’re able to respond to the call He has on your life. But, truly He has lifted all food rules.
When we can let go of putting on labels of good and bad foods and getting stuck in diet side effects, there’ll be much more mental and emotional space to be able to serve Him and to be healthy and happy within ourselves.
The negative self-talk about what we should or shouldn’t be eating, what we have to or can’t eat, is only exhausting and it only keeps us focused on ourselves and food. Not very helpful.
The way that you choose to eat should give you freedom. And a lot of that comes with letting go of the all-or-nothing mindset and making choices that fit into your daily life…choices which represent that the eternal is more important than the temporal.
THE HOLY SPIRIT + BIBLICAL HEALTH
Another consideration in choosing what’s your biblically healthy way of eating is understanding how your choices are going to impact your spirit. This comes down to getting clear on what the Holy Spirit is directing you to do, noticing where you feel a gentle conviction to make a change.
It’s not so much about the what, but as we said before, it’s about the heart. It’s about how God can use something as seemingly insignificant as the food that we eat on a daily basis to prune you, to chip away, to shape you to be more like Christ.
The image of saying “no” to our flesh can feel like a really awful thing. But when we do so, it’s refreshing in our spirits, as they soar when we begin to put God before what our flesh desires.
This doesn’t mean making militant choices or cutting off all the tasty things from your life. Rather, it’s following the direction of the Holy Spirit.
It’s about allowing the choices that you do make within your diet to be done unto Him.
It’s not about self-promotion, glorifying ourselves, or pride in our accomplishments or outcomes.
“How you eat” can truly change your spiritual health in ways that far outweigh, outrun, and outlast the physical side of things.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.