My son, Joshua, and I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Uganda in February. After getting back, I was surprised by how “out-of-sync” I felt. I became easily frustrated and was generally grouchy most of the time. I shared this with my class, really unsure why this was happening. Our instructor commented “…the first thing that came to mind when I read [your comment] was, are you rested? If not, I wouldn’t look much further than that until you have Sabbath rest. Seems like you would need to be refueled after a trip like that, spiritually and physically.” I took time to get rested and sure enough, things improved.
Two months later I was again cranky and irritable. I couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t like the way I was interacting with Angie or the kids. But it wasn’t just with my family. I was feeling distant from God. I left my time in the Bible wondering what I’d just read. I was distracted and unable to focus. I wondered if I was under spiritual attack.
But, as I was praying about the situation, God dropped the answer on me like a ton of bricks…I needed more rest. For several days, I hadn’t been getting enough sleep. My situation wasn’t caused by spiritual attack; it was caused by my own poor choices. I was staying up too late and getting up too early. As a result, I was hard to live with and wasn’t mentally or spiritually alert enough to connect with God on a meaningful level.
“Lack of sleep” didn’t seem like a very “spiritual” answer to the problem. And yet, I knew it was the right one. Being tired was causing me to be grumpy…but it was also keeping me from being joyful and truly aware of God at work all around me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how important taking care of myself physically really is to my spiritual life. John Piper writes, “God has united the body and the spirit in such a way that careless uses of the body will ordinarily diminish our sight of the hope-giving glory of God” (When I Don’t Desire God).
This doesn’t apply only to sleep or rest. It has implications for what I eat and drink (and how much); whether I exercise regularly or not; and what how I dress or adorn my body as well. I need to recognize that ultimately my body belongs to God. He has entrusted it to me for a time, but I need to be a good steward of what he’s given. I may not always like it! But that’s really not the point. The point is whether I’m being faithful to care for the body he has given me – mixing in proper amounts of work and rest; food and drink; etc.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul wrote: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” And then in 6:19-20 we read, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
What does it mean that I am God’s temple?
What difference does it make that God’s Spirit lives in me?
How should I honor God with my body?
What if the lack of spiritual growth or transformation I’m experiencing isn’t because of sin in my life or a need to fast more or pray more or something spiritual…what if the lack of spiritual growth or transformation is because I’m not honoring God with my body; because I’m not caring for God’s temple the way I should?
As is often the case, how each of us answers those questions will be different. But it’s important that we take them seriously. It doesn’t mean that we can only eat certain foods or should all be a certain size. Rather it means that we should all be striving to have healthy lifestyles in all we are and do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The context has to do with our not causing others problems by our eating or drinking…but how much more should we keep from causing ourselves problems by our eating and drinking!
Let us celebrate that God has made us spiritual beings in physical bodies! Let’s honor him by how we live – resting or sleeping; eating and drinking – that we might draw close to Him and be made into the image of his beloved Son!