Let’s start by reviewing the fact that stewardship is the taking care of something not our own that was entrusted to us by someone else. In this series, we are studying the things that God has given us to be stewards over in this lifetime. Certainly, no study on stewardship would be complete without focusing on the most important thing we were given by God to be good stewards over. That would be our bodies.
Now we have all been quoted 1st Timothy 4:8, that “bodily exercise profiteth little…” Generally that’s where the quoting of that verse stops. And, if you are like me, one who finds it difficult to get motivated to exercise simply for health, we take this verse out of context with the best of the bunch and say that spiritual matters are far more important to pursue than to waste time exercising, when we could be doing devotions, praying, etc. After all, exercise profiteth little! The truth is, science has shown tremendous value in exercising. So, is the Bible wrong when it says that exercising is of little value? No, read the rest of the verse.
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” So, bodily exercise profiteth little in CONTRAST to godliness, which stems from exercising our spirituality into good health. The Bible is simply saying that when held against godliness, the greater value is a healthy spirituality that is vibrant and alive and strong than a healthy body.
However, for the purposes of this lesson on bodily stewardship, were going to look at the need to take care of our bodies, independent of any spiritual pursuits. Because the truth is, a healthy body will help in many of the areas God may call you to minister, and help to do so in the most optimal way. After all, we have only one body. Oh, modern science has created spare parts, and we can now have transplants of all sorts of body parts between people, but really, we have only ONE body. We have just ONE chance to be stewards of our ONE body, which contains our ONE soul, giving us ONE life.
John 1:3 and 1:11 tell us that God Himself made us. He formed us in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Your heartbeat coursed blood through your veins at just 22 days. In that small amount of time, from a single cell on day one of conception, until three weeks later, God developed a whole circulatory system, complete with a beating heart. God put so much intricate detail into the creation of a human being, that it’s a shame people don’t think twice about what they themselves do the their bodies that undoes all that God did!
Our only body is what God gave us by which to do His will. Romans 12:1-2 tell us to present our BODIES to God as we seek to find and do His will. In the book of 1st Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul lays out for us the fact that our bodies (if we’re saved) are now the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God dwells in our bodies. We are the landlords of the Holy Spirit’s abode. Are we good and caring landlords, or are we slumlords? Because that same reference tells us to glorify God with our bodies, and I’m afraid there are Christians out there who take for granted the condition of their bodies, as it relates to God’s service and the harboring of the Holy Spirit.
Without our help, our bodies will naturally break down and become less than optimal in their functioning. Romans 5 explains that sin entered the world through Adam, and that is how death (physical) entered into the mix. But the sins we indulge ourselves in often hasten this process of physical death, over a period of years, or even decades, but the sinful indulgences we fiddle with will hasten the destruction of our bodies.
Smoking is among the top in sinful indulgences. It’s estimated that 19% of the adult population in the United States smokes. That’s a staggering 45.3 million people. That’s 45.3 million people putting themselves at KNOWN risk of lung cancer, throat cancer, high blood pressure, peripheral vascular diseases, and strokes, to name a few. Imagine the juxtaposition of a Christian sitting at the table doing their morning devotion while the ashes from their cigarette fall onto the pages of their Bible. Is there a sillier image? Maybe there is…
Alcohol will lead to impaired judgment. This impaired judgment may lead to sinful acts, or risk-taking behaviors that may lead to physical harm or death itself. Drunk driving is a cause of many premature deaths among young people. If these young people can survive their reckless youth, but never curb their lust for alcohol, they’re looking at liver failure or a toxic condition in the brain called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also termed “wet brain” which is characterized by staggering, eye-shifting, paranoia and psychosis, encephalopathy, short-term memory loss, and the eventual loss of ability to communicate. This end-stage condition of alcohol abuse is irreversible and is fatal in about 20% of the diagnosed cases. How many people do you know smoke AND drink…UGH!!!
Drugs, prescription or otherwise, are a class of abused substances that is too numerous to look at, with wide-ranging destructive effects on the body. Narcotics (pain killers) abuse will cause the body to create more and more receptor sites for the chemical, which in turn will develop within the body a real physical dependence. Hence the reason addicts will find themselves needing more and more of the drug over time. Crack and straight-up cocaine can put people into cardiac arrest. Marijuana destroys brain cells (and brain cells don’t grow back). LSD and other mind-altering drugs will produce acute paranoia and people can have long-term “flashbacks” that happen suddenly and without warning. Imagine presenting your bodies to God for His service complete with the long list of side effects from years of abuse, including uncontrolled flashbacks…SIGH!!!
Of course, eating can create problems for our bodies…especially overeating. Current national statistics have obesity rates at 35.7% of adults and 17% of children. A very small percent of these obese individuals can claim a metabolic condition. The overwhelming majority can’t control their poor eating habits. For many, eating is an indulgence they partake in during stressful times to soothe their anxieties, anger, frustration, despair, depression, or a myriad of other negative emotions. Also, being in a hectic life that is very much conducive to frequenting fast-food establishments with their immensely high calorie meals plays yet another role. All these factors leading to obesity eventually lead to such conditions as gall stones, Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, strokes, sleep disorders, and joint problems, to name but a few.
At age 42, I have come to understand the need to care for our bodies. I never smoked, drank, did drugs, or took stupid risks with my health growing up. I was an athlete and was extremely active engaging in high-energy sports into my mid thirties. Now that I have a family and have since stopped playing high-intensity sports, I can feel a difference in my energy level…it’s way down. I can feel a difference in my endurance and stamina…they’re way down. I can feel a weight gain that has been noticed by more and more people as it becomes more and more noticeable. All this while not doing anything intentional to bring down my health. But that’s the point, it happens naturally…without our “help.” So even I am guilty of poor habits leading to less than optimal health. My habit…laziness. Just as detrimental in its own way as smoking, drinking, drugging, and overeating.
Now that I’ve alienated everyone reading this, let me give you a few suggestions on improving your stewardship over your body.
1. Exercise: I work with a lady right now who lost over 120 pounds by deciding one day she wanted to run (exercise). Exercise will burn off calories. Approximately 500kcal burned will result in one pound lost per week. Plus, exercise is so good for cardiac health. Running, cycling, rowing, swimming are all examples of aerobic activity because they are non-stop activities. Tennis, soccer, basketball, softball, and others are NOT aerobic cardiac workouts…there’s too much stopping. Plus, calories are burned off easily and at a more accurately estimated pace during non-stop aerobic exercising. Just even get out and walk!!!
2. Better Nutrition: Counting calories (with the intention of decreasing them) helps in weight loss. Decreasing your calorie intake by 500kcal will result in about one pound loss per week. Don’t be on the Olympic Glutton Team going for gold. Eating the right, healthy foods can lose it’s effectiveness if you eat exorbitant amounts, or larger than necessary portions. You’ll defeat the purpose of healthy foods. Also, until you begin eating a nutritionally balanced meal, you may need vitamins or mineral supplements to replace what your body needs, but lacks in your current diet. I’ve started to become aware of the fact that nutritionally speaking, “Garbage in…garbage out.”
3. Sleep Better: Allow for a recommended 6-8 hour sleep cycle. Our brains and muscles and joints and tendons, etc, all need to rest. People have actually died from staying awake too long without sleep (we’re talking days). But without adequate sleep our brains do not function optimally. We can have altered moods, especially depression, and we can even experience some form of psychosis. Sleep helps prevent all those things. For that matter, aside from sleep, take God’s example and rest at least one day per week. For me, it’s Sunday. I don’t work ever on a Sunday, and I keep my activities limited to the lighter side, like cutting the grass or working in the yard.
4. Get Help with Stress: Please, for your health’s sake, let God help you deal with any and all stresses that come into your life. Stress is a leading component in the use of drugs, alcohol, smoking, and compulsive eating. Stress can lead to fast heart rates, heart attacks, ulcers, irritable bowels, headache, depression, and anxiety. If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation and your faith is being challenged and you’re getting stressed, remember this one thing. Whatever you are going through. Whatever stress you are experiencing. Nothing took God by surprise. He either caused it to happen, or He let it happen. Either way, He is completely aware of it, and will help you…better than cigarettes, pills, joints, shots, and Twinkies®!!!
Look, whatever damage has been done to this point may not be able to be reversed. However, you may be able to prevent increasing or worsening pre-existing conditions, and maybe even prevent new conditions from creeping up on you. Stop smoking, you’ll feel worlds better in a few weeks. Stop drinking and drugging and start coping. Stop soothing yourself with food as this will only lead to unwanted conditions that will cause you stress, anxiety, and depression for which you will seek more food and perpetuate the vicious cycle. We have but one body!!!
There is a quote that has been attributed, in variations, to many famous people. Rather than take credit for it and add myself to that list, I’ll just give you the quote because it sums up the concept of stewardship of our bodies quite nicely:
“If I had known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself!”