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What does it mean to be healthy? What kinds of things do you do to be healthy? We pour so much time and effort into healthy living, healthy eating, healthy habits, and healthy thinking. It takes intentional effort. It takes planned out thought. It takes discipline. It takes saying yes to certain things and no to others. In the moment you may be what you think might be sacrificing, but you are trying to make certain choices, change, and change your lifestyle because of the lasting benefit.
Some people call it dieting, others call it healthy living. But it is all the same thing. It all comes down to changing your actions to change the effect. What should really be focusing on is creating a healthy lifestyle. Because then it isn’t just a fad, the newest trend, or a temporary phase. A changed lifestyle lasts. When you first start a diet you usually cut things out or add things in. Have less dessert throughout the week, make healthier choices at meals, and control your portions. The more established those habits become, the more routine it becomes. It becomes second nature to make healthy choices. It becomes a part of who you are. Usually over time you prefer the good things rather than the instant pleasure of the not so healthy things. Your appetite changes. Your cravings change. And you change.
Often times faith and a spiritual life is seen as something that is regimented and monitored. You have to “do” all these things to feel close to God. There is a continual push to read your Bible, pray, and be surrounded by good people. And we say it is because you feel closer to the Lord through these things, you feel centered on the truth of God, you experience his peace. But sometimes we get so stuck on the fact that there are these things we “have” to do. Some people see this as very restrictive or controlled. But in all reality, we don’t “have” to do anything. We can choose to spend our time however we want. But we aren’t always looking at the benefit or consequence of those circumstances. Monitoring and controlling what we do in our spiritual life is an effort to create good positive beneficial and lasting habits. So yes, it seems regimented, but do we want a healthy spiritual life? What we put into our hearts, souls, and minds is going to be what comes out. Just like the food we eat affects our health, the actions we do or don’t do to invest in our spiritual life affects our souls. Do you want a soul that is constantly in a battle of prioritizing time, struggling with choices, and living in doubt? Or do you want to be so devoted to a lifestyle change that living with Jesus becomes entrenched in who you are?
Lasting change takes time, effort, discipline, and strength to create habits that will eventually become so ingrained in you that it is who you are. Just like a diet, we have to work at it. But you don’t want something that is temporary. You want a lifestyle that is spent with Jesus. So make the effort. Make changes that will end in transformation. You won’t regret it. A life filled with Jesus is full, abundant, and irreplaceable. When living for Jesus and loving with Jesus becomes a natural overflow of the heart, you experience things greater than you could ever imagine. It is natural, it is rich, and it will change your life.
In the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan he talks about reading catchy food advertisements versus reading the real nutrition labels. The book reads “Recently I saw a bag of potato chips with a bold declaration splashed across the front: “Zero grams of trans fat.” I was glad to know that I wouldn’t be consuming any trans fat, which research has shown is detrimental to my health. But then I flipped the bag over and read the ingredients list, which included things like “yellow #6” and other artificial colors, and partially hydrogenated oil (which is trans fat, just a small enough amount that they can legally call it “0 grams”). I thought it was incredibly ironic that these chips were being advertised in a way that makes me think they are not harmful yet were really full of empty calories, weird chemicals, and, ironically, trans fat.
It struck me that many Christians flash around their “no trans fat” label, trying to convince everyone they are healthy and good. Yet they have no substantive or healthful elements to their faith. It’s like the Laodiceans, who thought they had everything until Christ told them they were poor and wretched. They were all about declaring, “Look, we have no trans fat. We are wealthy, or we have good families, or we go to church every week.” Obviously, it’s not what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.”
What are you really made of?
So take this challenge to be spiritual healthy. Add one thing to your day or week that will move you towards greater spiritual health. Not because you “have” to, but because you are choosing to for a transformed lifestyle filled with Jesus.