“Does God really care about our weight?” A young woman emailed me that question recently after reading about my Christian weight loss success story. I gave her the short answer, but it inspired me to look deeper at the subject.
In this article, I want to share my answer to that question as well as some other controversial questions surrounding weight loss programs for Christians.
The questions I will answer include:
- Does God really care about our weight?
- Can I ‘shame and guilt’ my way into changing?
- If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God?
- Can I eliminate the desire for quick fixes?
So let’s get started with the questions…
Does God really care about our weight?
No, God does not care what you weigh. The Bible says that man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). I don’t believe God is up in heaven with a scale and tape measure, fretting if you gain a pound or two. I believe He leaves the size we choose to maintain up to us, much like our hairstyle or clothing choices.
God loves you just as much at a size 28 as at a size 8. Nothing you do can make Him love you more than he does now.
What does God care about? Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are called to glorify God in body and spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In John 15:8, Jesus tells us how we glorify God: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
The fruit that Jesus is talking about is the fruit of the Spirit. We are to bear much love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).
Any thoughts or behavior in your life that have become weeds hindering the fruit that you bear concern God. In my case, compulsive overeating was that behavior – one that I was using to hide myself from emotional pain. My excess weight was just an outward manifestation of what was going on in my heart.
So you see, the real issue is not about size, but stewardship. God can teach you how to become a good steward of your body and remove the hindrances that keep you from bearing fruit. Humble yourself and pray the same prayer that King David prayed in Psalm 139: 23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Caring for your body requires wisdom and balance. Only with God’s help can you gain both. As I learned to build my health through following Godly wisdom in my eating behavior and through disciplining my body with regular exercise, my weight took care of itself.
I’ll discuss this point more later in the article.
Can I ‘shame and guilt’ myself into changing?
I’ve read many articles about weight loss for Christians, and some seem to endorse the “shame your way to change” approach. But that approach does not work. Well, not for long!
Why? Because shame and guilt ignores the grace of God. Trying to use shame as a motivator ultimately leads to frustration, hopelessness, discouragement, and depression.
But meditating on the grace of God, his goodness, and his love for you constantly leads to a renewed heart and inspires repentance (a change of heart and mind). You acknowledge that God personally formed every part of your body skillfully and wonderfully, and you want to honor him by taking care of it.
A change in daily behavior is evidence of true repentance.
If I fall short in my weight loss plan, do I disappoint God?
The other issue I’ve seen is Christians thinking they are “disappointing God” by falling short in their weight loss plan. But this too is an error in thinking. Disappointment comes about when you expect something of a person and are surprised when they don’t come through. But God already knows everything about you. He knows about your mistakes before you make them! So how can you ever disappoint him? Not only that, but he already has a plan in place to help you recover!
Secondly, there is really no way that you can fall short if you use each mistake as a building block, not a stumbling block. What can you learn from the mistake that can propel you forward?
God is ever patient in teaching you the right way and leading you in the way you should go. Remember Philippians 1:6: “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”. With that in mind, resolve to never give up on yourself. Hold fast to your confidence.
Can you eliminate the desire for quick fixes?
I don’t believe it is possible to eliminate the desire for a quick fix. I think that is part of our sin/flesh nature. It’s like little children on a road trip to Disney World continually asking their parents, “Are we there yet?” When little children want something good, they don’t want to wait to get it. They want it now!
But as mature believers, we recognize the truth of the scripture that says that we inherit God’s promises through faith and patience (see Hebrews 6:12). Patience is part of the fruit of the spirit and as I mentioned previously with self-control, it must be exercised to grow (see Galatians 5:22).
With that being said, you’ll never get to “Disney World” as long as you stay at home. You have to get on the right road to it. Then once you are on the road, you can enjoy the trip by reminding yourself that you will get there in time – encourage yourself continually. You can also amuse yourself by making your goal a game daily. For example, count how many healthy choices you make each day and every day try to match or beat your previous score.
Finally enjoy the scenery along the way…notice you getting stronger, fitter, faster than you were before. Notice better muscle tone. Notice less shortness of breath. All of these will ensure that you will not only enjoy your ideal size when you get it, but enjoy yourself all the way to it.
I hope this article clearly provides my stand on some controversial Christian weight loss questions. And if weight is an issue for you, ask God to show you wisdom in how to handle it.
I am not special – the victory he gave to me, he can give to you!
Be blessed in health, healing, and wholeness,
Creator of the ‘Take Back Your Temple’ program