When it comes to diet and exercise, there are two extremes. One is to exercise too little at eat too much. The other is to exercise too much and eat too little. While it’s unhealthy and sinful to be a lazy glutton, it’s also unhealthy and sinful to be an exercise addict who is a slave to the scale, pedometer, and calorie counter.
As Christians, we want a balance here: self-control and moderation are some key words to think about. We don’t want to end up in either extreme, where food is an idol or the ideal body or weight is an idol. In her book Love to Eat, Hate to Eat Elyse Fitzpatrick gives excellent biblical counsel in this area. I mentioned this resource last week (here). This week I want to emphasize a different theme of this solid book: the sixth commandment (“you shall not murder”).
“I would imagine that the thought of actually murdering someone is far from most of us. …This is as it should be. But, is it possible that we could be guilty of a kind of murder ourselves by the way we treat our bodies?”
“According to the Westminster Larger Catechism, some of the duties required by the sixth commandment include the following: ‘to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away of life of any …a sober use of meat, drink …sleep, labor, and recreations.'”
“I know that the way those words are written is antiquated. We hardly speak of a ‘sober’ use of meat or drink anymore. But I think there is real truth here. In more modern terms, the writers of this catechism believed that the sixth commandment taught not only that we must protect others’ lives, but that we also had an obligation to protect our own life.”
“We must be careful to avoid overeating or starvation, drunkenness, and overwork. We must moderate our recreations so that we do not ruin our health by them, and we must not work so hard that we neglect God’s command to preserve our life through Sabbath rest. Wherever you are in your lifespan – whether you are a young woman, full of strength and vitality, or a middle-aged woman feeling strong and yet recognizing that youth has passed, or an older woman struggling with declining health – you must look at the body you now have as a precious gift from your Lord to care for.”
“…Just remember that caring for your body is not the goal of life – glorifying and loving God is. Caring for your body is merely a means to an end and one way to say thank you to the Lord for all of the things He has done for you” (p. 59-60).