For most of my life, I have been about as wide as I am tall. I never had to worry about growing, either vertically or horizontally. However, I have had several friends through the years that seemed like they were carbohydrate-deficient, who could eat anything and never gain a pound. It is difficult for us who never struggled with skinniness to relate how being thin could ever be any life challenge. Yet, I am reliably informed that for many people being underweight can be a struggle. Underweight and overweight represent two extremes of body types.
Relating the Christian life to physical body types, people generally fall into one extreme or the other. One extreme is the folks I call the spiritually overweight. The spiritually overweight are those who just gorge and gorge on spiritual things; worship, Bible study, retreats, conferences, CD and DVD training in one Christian discipline or another, and just endless hours of soaking in worship and preaching of all kinds. At the other extreme are the spiritually underweight. They have gone far beyond being spiritually skinny. Spiritually they look like they have an emaciating eating disorder. The spiritually underweight might be described as those who claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ but give little evidence of that relationship; never reading their Bible, barely fellowshipping or worshipping with the saints, not reading Christian books, and almost a disdain for discipleship. Neither of these spiritual extremes, either spiritually overweight or spiritually underweight, seem to be particularly healthy. So, is there a foundation for a spiritually healthy diet? I believe there might be some clues in three scriptures that challenge us to spiritual growth and health.
The first scripture is II Peter 3:18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!”
The first step toward a spiritually healthy diet is growing in an understanding of the unmerited favor, the grace of the Lord, toward one’s own life. When we see ourselves as sinners saved by grace, we can be more loving toward other sinners who are either saved by grace or need.
Another sign of a spiritually healthy growth diet is a desire to know about the Lord. This is much more than just assimilating facts and figures about the Bible. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. True knowledge comes from experiencing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The second scripture for the healthy growth diet for the Christian is Colossians 1:10: “…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” This scripture says that we are to grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus, but the proof of having that knowledge may be seen in good works. We do not earn our salvation by works, but our healthy spiritual growth diet should include doing good works for the Lord. Jesus came to reach the least, the disenfranchised, of society. So should we. No diet plan is complete without exercise. Ministry in Christ, our good deeds, is our spiritual workout.
A healthy growth diet for the body must have its foundation in fruits and vegetables. For the Christian, this third set of verses might be considered foundational. II Thessalonians 1:3: “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” Faith and love are foundational. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Above all things, love must be evident. In a healthy growth diet, faith is growing, and love is increasing. Can we love too much, have too much faith? Like water, fruits, and vegetables, we can generally have and share as much faith and love as we desire.
What does your spiritual body look like? Are you spiritually underweight? Are you spiritually overweight, full of knowledge and information, but not exercising your spiritual gifts to let that knowledge loose to help others? The table is set; the things you need are right before you. It would help if you chose to take, to engage. As you grow healthy, those around you will be motivated and inspired to be spiritually healthy too.