In this very special year, God is offering us the knowledge, opportunity, help and power to make greater change in the spiritual refinement of our lives. We are the temple of God and He seeks to more fully dwell within His Church, especially at this time in the preparation and work that will usher in His Kingdom and the reign of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Although it was quoted in the last post, it needs to be quoted again what Paul instructed the Church concerning our responsibility to glorify and honor God in our life. During this year, these verses need to become much more deeply ingrained in our thinking.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own [to do as you please, as you will, apart from God’s ways and will]? For you are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
These are truly awesome verses and each person should strive to come to see more deeply the importance of what is being said. These verses are so important to grasp at this time that it would be good to go through them in prayer before God. In so doing, one needs to genuinely and earnestly focus on the words and what they mean for their life.
We are not only “not to defile the temple,” but we are to “dress and keep” ourselves in a way that reflects true honor being given to God through our example, which also has much to do with our very appearance. We honor and glorify God when we live in “true” moderation, soundness, and balance in life. We can dishonor God when our example reflects characteristics that are opposite or contrary to His.
In the last post, the principle of judging by moderation was addressed in the use of makeup and alcohol. That process for judgment can be used in other areas of life as well. However, it is also necessary to add to that process the need to also seek soundness of thinking and true balance in our judging. The ability to exercise these with “right reasoning” is not in mankind, but must come from God, just as it was covered concerning the ability to rightly judge moderation.
Some of the areas that can be worked upon more in this quest of seeking to reflect true moderation, soundness, and balance include matters like one’s work ethic and productivity, clothing (styles, cleanliness, and care), diet, weight, grooming, and any other area that involves the need and responsibility to “dress and keep” ourselves.
Seeking Good Health
It should be clear throughout scripture that it is one of God’s desires for His creation to be healthy. Early on, God gave Israel laws that pertained to maintaining good physical health and hygiene. God also revealed to Israel the curse of sickness and disease that would result from disobedience and negligence to live the way He revealed to them.
It needs to be recognized here that one’s attitude toward working at maintaining good physical health reveals much about the likelihood of how one will work at maintaining good spiritual health. If one is lax toward being watchful in their diet and need for exercise, then there is a stronger likelihood of that person being lax (not as watchful) toward their spiritual health. It could also be said that if one is primarily motivated by vanity in how one looks, then they are more likely to be motivated by vanity in how they act in what they perceive as being spiritual and the reflection they want to portray in how they want to be seen by others. If someone is motivated by pride in one’s own self-discipline and personal values then the likelihood is higher that such a person will be motivated by pride in their own abilities and/or self-discipline in personal study, prayer, fasting, listening to sermons, etcetera, rather than in having a true meekness, humbleness, and thankfulness toward God for the spiritual health and strength they are blessed to receive in life that come fully from God and not at all from self.
In this modern age where there has been an explosion in science and technology, we find that mankind, due to his greed, has been more greatly cursed than in any other age. Although there is much good that has come from the great advances in science and technology, the norm for mankind is to misuse such knowledge for immoral and selfish purposes.
We see this misuse of knowledge in the area of agriculture where the raising of animals and crops, as well as its distribution for consumption as food products, is steeped in greed and a reckless application of science and technology. As a result, the food we eat is not the quality God originally created for mankind. With the chemical contents alone that are contained in food items at a grocery store, people truly have no idea of the true effects of what these chemical ingredients can have on the human body and mind.
The reality is that we cannot begin to completely protect ourselves or our families from the harmful effects of chemicals and food degradation. To do so would require great wealth, years of work, land, equipment, workers, and so many other resources. In this age, it is impossible to secure totally uncontaminated, chemical-free, purified food products. We are in bondage to a corrupt world.
Nevertheless, we should strive to be healthy, and when it comes to what we eat, we should work at ever improving upon our diet – what we eat. Interjecting at this point, it needs to be said that great balance and soundness of mind needs to be exercised in such matters, and the motivation must be one that comes from God and wanting to please Him.
There are some who keep off excess weight simply by their own drive that is motivated by vanity (how they want to appear to others or how they see themselves). Such can at times become so unbalanced toward their own appearance to the point of becoming nutritionally starved, and this can even lead to some becoming bulimic or anorexic. Then there are those whose diet is governed by pride and strength of self-control as a result of their own “self-educated belief and understanding” of “proper diet.” True and sound motivation can only come as a result of one’s personal relationship with God and a right desire of humbly honoring Him in one’s life.
Great balance and soundness of mind must be exercised, because when people begin to become more informed and/or concerned about such things, the tendency is that many then become unbalanced in how they address it all. Human nature often reacts (responds) in an extreme way and not in a balanced manner. The extreme for some is that they totally ignore such knowledge because for them it is easier. They simply do not want to be bothered by such responsibility and the feeling of any guilt for what they want to eat.
While there is one group that goes to the extreme in choosing to ignore helpful knowledge, there are others that swing to the opposite extreme to the point of fanaticism. Such individuals often tend to go to great lengths acquiring only food products which are considered “natural” or only “organic.” This thinking generally goes so far that these same individuals often take this to a level of great pride. Often they feel the urge to promote and openly preach, to those who will listen, about “their” understanding and “personal practice” of such pursuits. Not only that, but they also tend to look down upon others and openly reflect their disdain, disagreement, and/or judgment against them by their condemning or condescending words and/or actions. A person exercising such pride and/or hard judgment upon others does far worse in dishonoring God by such actions than all of their best efforts they expend at eating purer foods do to honor God (if such were their true motive).
However, there is “balance” and “soundness of mind” that needs to be exercised in such matters. Much of this comes back to rightly understanding our relationship with God and what it means that we are to be seeking to act responsibly toward those things within our control. Yes, one should seek to eat in a healthy manner, and that is a personal matter for each individual to judge for themselves. It is a personal matter for each person because of one’s own unique circumstances that often vary from that of others. One must consider their own budget (financial balance), their own circumstances regarding their own health or that of other family members, a manageable stewardship of that which is within their control, etcetera.
If a person has absolute knowledge of the true quality of some food and believes it to be a healthier item that they can afford to add to their overall food budget, then that is their choice to include such to their diet, and it is good if they can do so. If someone has the same knowledge, but feels it is too expensive for them or not of as meaningful an advantage over other less natural or less organic products, then that is their free choice. One person may be able to enhance their food supply somewhat by planting a garden where they can exercise better control of the produce it yields. Others, however, may not find such a thing helpful or possible to do. Someone may have access to or ability to purchase more food items that are more natural or organic, while another may not. These are personal judgments and we should not judge or condemn others for their personal judgment in such matters.
There is also the factor of each person’s need to understand the importance of faith and that of trusting in God for protection that should always be considered when striving to be a good steward over such things in one’s family. We can and should always look to God for protection from those things that might possibly be harmful if one is striving to handle well the overall management of what they eat or feed to their family.
We should indeed seek balance in our efforts to honor God. It is far better to work toward having a balanced diet than it is to acquire the most perfect food that one can. Yet if one is able to improve upon the quality of their food, then that will indeed enhance the quality of their balanced diet.
This matter of a balanced diet also brings up a closely related subject concerning that of being overweight. Over the past several decades, the percentage of those who are overweight has grown exponentially. There are two factors that should be included in maintaining good physical health, which if omitted, often leads to one becoming overweight. These are “exercise” and a combination of “eating better food” and “portion control.”
It is true that some people have simply inherited a breakdown in genetics that has then been passed down from generation to generation, which has led to a poor functioning metabolism. If that is the case, then one should not just settle for such an outcome, but one should fight to make some improvement in their condition.
Very often, however, the condition of being overweight is simply the matter of a lack of effort being expended to exercise greater self-discipline in one’s life. Engaging in the battle to fight against being overweight is often beneficial in the development of stronger qualities of character, like that of strengthening one’s self-discipline that can then be exercised in other areas of life, and in developing or strengthening qualities, such as not giving up in battle, patience, determination, compassion, work ethic, consistency, etcetera.
Then there are those who have never had weight problems, or those who experience them to a much lesser degree than others, who themselves also have need to develop or strengthen such qualities of character, but will have to learn and develop them through other means or trials. The reason for this is because they have such a metabolism and genetic disposition where they will never have such battles or may only have to put minimal effort into losing weight.
Most who are overweight can mightily improve their overall health by losing weight through improving their diets and exercising regularly. For many, the fight against being overweight can be a life-long fight, just as many other battles are. It should be well understood that being overweight is the cause of many serious health problems in life. The issue of being overweight is one that clearly relates to what is being said when speaking of the need to seek to honor God in our physical bodies.
Excess weight does not accumulate in a week or a month and it simply will not disappear in a short time either. One must focus on changing bad habits like over eating, eating too many sweets, eating unbalanced and excessively fat producing foods, lack of exercise, etcetera.
In the environment I’m in now, in this prison system, I’ve seen a wide variety of examples that show how people address weight issues. This environment is unique in that the quality of food is quite poor compared to what the average person has access to through their local grocery store. There are those who not only go through the line at the cafeteria at every meal, but who often try to go through it two or three times. These same people also purchase sweets, soda pop, and junk foods that they eat often between meals. These individuals reflect their eating.
I’ve seen those who come in big and get bigger. I have seen those who come in average and then become big. However, I’ve also seen others lose weight, and they are those who have become more food conscious since coming here. They have tended to become more selective in what the will eat and will not eat as part of their diet. Such individuals lose weight by eating less and being more selective of what they do eat.
As common as it is for many to get bigger here, it is just as common that many lose weight also. The loss of twenty to forty pounds is a pretty regular occurrence. Yet there are some who have worked to shed much more. In addition to taking more control over their diet, all of these individuals exercise as well. There is one person I have come to know who has lost 140 pounds in thirteen months. Besides taking control over his diet, he has been faithfully walking three miles a day.
There are a wide variety of diets one can use to start the process of trying to lose weight, if one so chooses. Some may feel that there are certain diets that are dangerous, but such choices should also include the reality that failure to shed excess weight can also be very dangerous to one’s own health. All such choices are personal and others should not insert themselves into judging what another does in such instances. The focus for one’s health regarding daily diet should be to strive to eat more balanced meals and in smaller portions. This needs to be coupled together with striving to eliminate more junk foods from one’s eating habits (if applicable) and of trying to purchase the best quality foods that one can comfortably afford.
There are also other matters that can be addressed that have to do with seeking good health, but there is one issue that has an important lesson clearly associated with it that can help one grow in understanding. It has to do with the matter of quitting the bad habit of smoking. It is an issue that has been a battle for many who have been called by God. This is still a battle for a very few in God’s Church, but it is still another area that needs to be cleansed within the environment of God’s temple.
This habit is not only a very unhealthy one, but it is also obnoxious and highly annoying for those who do not smoke. It is indeed a dirty habit that is spiritually steeped in selfishness, having a lack of love or concern and respect toward others, and of reckless disregard for being a clean temple for God to dwell. Some do indeed “seem” to perhaps escape some of the highly dangerous repercussions to their own health, such as cancers, lung disease, circulatory related conditions that affect the blood, heart, and other organs, whereas others do not “get by” and instead suffer horribly at some stage in their life.
There are many lessons that can be learned from such a foul habit, but one that will be mentioned here is important in understanding how wrong patterns of thinking conflict with that which could otherwise be in true harmony on a spiritual plane with God.
One who smokes tends to lose, or has never developed, the ability to recognize the obnoxious smell of cigarette smoke itself. To someone not accustomed to such an environment of cigarette smoke, whose sense of smell and taste are used to a far cleaner environment, such an individual is so sensitive to that smell that they can easily smell smoke on clothing, in the car, or in a home of a smoker. Yet the smoker is clueless – oblivious to such a “reality.”
This example is very reflective of other areas of life that separate the way people “think” about various matters of life. We are to seek to “dress and keep” our environment – that which is within our control – in a way that is in harmony with God and His ways. If one’s environment includes the filthy habit of smoking, then such a person will be “dulled” or fully unable to “think right” toward “why” such a thing is so wrong, unhealthy, and not in unity with what is right before God. Instead, one will see such a thing in a way that tends to justify, minimize, condone, and/or choose to ignore the truth about smoking. They simply cannot “see” what others “see” who live in a clean environment.
This same “reality” is true in nearly all areas of life concerning one’s ability to see things more clearly on a spiritual plane. The ability to best understand this is to begin seeing it here with this example of smoking and then in other smaller and more basic areas of life as well.
As with the example of makeup, those who have more fully experienced a sound balance toward its use are amply able to “see” when it is being misused and/or over used. Those who don’t see such a thing simply cannot “see,” just as one who smokes “cannot see” what others do who are cleansed or clean from it. One cannot truly see the ugliness, uncleanness, and obnoxiousness of smoking until they have been free and cleansed of it for some time. Then they can begin to grow in ability to truly “see.”
These are two very small and basic physical things that reveal a reality that is true in all areas of life. It is not until one has been cleansed from a wrong environment or practice in life and then begins to practice and live what is right that they can truly begin to “see” the ugliness of that which is not in unity and harmony with God. For those who have lived, exercised, experienced, and proven (by living and doing) things in life that are right and in harmony with God, they are able to “see” what others simply cannot until others also begin to live right and in harmony with God in those same areas of life.
We know that some might consider it a very small physical thing concerning the length for hair on a man or woman, yet God reveals that it is important in showing true and right honor toward Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Matters of hair length, hygiene, dress or skirt length, physical appearance, Sabbath wear, and other very physical things have much to do with how we think. These reveal whether our thinking is steeped in selfishness, pride, and/or vanity, or whether we are genuinely seeking to take responsibility to “dress and keep” our lives in a manner focused on true desire to honor God.
Another area that needs to be considered in this very special time of a heightened dedication that we are seeking in our relationship with God is that which concerns the value of living by right, balanced, and sound work ethic. Such is not only vital to one’s own well-being, financial stability, peace of mind, strength of character, and the giving of proper family support and example, but it is highly important to the support of God’s work.
There are some who have had to be suspended or even disfellowshipped from God’s Church because they have failed to “work” as they should. Paul revealed God’s will in this matter concerning work when he stated that one who does not provide for his own family is worse than a non-believer. A non-believer has no place in God’s Church (the Body of Christ). This instruction for “family” being spoken of may include the need for a mother, a father, or of both a husband and wife who must work, if necessary, to properly provide for the needs of their family. This “family” may also be only one person who is on their own and is therefore responsible for properly providing for themselves. Providing for family is a principle to be applied to any family unit, whether it is one person or many.
There are a vast number of causes for why there has been such a dramatic increase over the past couple of decades in a rapidly deteriorating “work ethic” being taught to (or learned by) young people. As a result, today’s overall younger workforce has a very poor work ethic, and also lacks skill (ability) to plan financially for their lives.
Many employers today have to deal with workers who regularly show up late, lack motivation and drive, and are often filled with such pride that they believe they know how to better do their jobs than how they have been told to perform them. They fail to grasp the importance of unity, support, cooperation, order, consistency, etcetera, which must be maintained within a company. Many workers today will not show initiative to go above and beyond their specific duties, and not only that, they even have to be closely supervised so they will do the tasks given to them. Some have the concept that 30 hours of work per week is a full-load and they do not strive to put in 40 hours per week, let alone consider doing overtime where they would likely receive extra bonus overtime pay. Often, if one is only able to find work for 20 hours per week, there is no concept of the possibility of seeking to secure another 20-hour job to fill in a workweek and thereby be a better provider. Too many just work enough to barely get by, and even then, if they have credit cards, they live on debt.
There is an attitude among too many that once they have left home and are on their own that they should continue with all the comforts they had while at home. Such seem to have no real concept of starting out small and then working hard to build up their own possessions and to establish financial stability in their life.
Quite candidly, laziness, lack of motivation, little drive, poor planning skills, failure to exercise personal responsibility at work, and other such traits are just the opposite of the ways of God. Scripture says much about the blessings, wisdom, and peace that come from being productive and learning the value and rewarding exercise of good work ethic.
Yet even in the subject of “work” there is the need for balance and soundness of thinking that should always be exercised so that a person does not go to the opposite extreme of working too much. One is to also enjoy the “fruit of their labor” and it is always good to also learn the importance of spending time, good time, with family – both physical and spiritual where possible.
There is so much more that could be written about for so many other areas of our lives and even about what has already been covered, but we have already been given far more than what we are actually able to fully digest and focus upon. We should simply zero-in on addressing what we can, especially those most important areas in our individual life that need the greatest attention and focus for change and transformation at this time.
In this complete series of posts, A Heightened Dedication, we have been given many principles, tools, and lessons that can be utilized and even built upon as we seek to strengthen our lives spiritually. We are being given great opportunity to more fully dedicate our lives to God, especially within the next eight months of this awesome Year of Dedication.
God our Father and Jesus Christ are with us, more than at any other time, to give to us far above and beyond what we can currently grasp or see. We are the focus of God’s work and continuing creation at this end-time. We are the foundation of all that will continue into the soon coming Millennium. We are God’s temple!