Do you hope to lose weight but fail time and again? Do you lust after food, and lack self control? If so, you’re not alone. Results from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), indicate that an estimated 66 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese.i Startling statistics like that cause us to wonder where the heart of our modern society lies.
This month, we’re talking about self-discipline: the nitty-gritty business of controlling our actions, that most of us would rather ignore than put a microscope to. In scripture after scripture, the Bible stresses the importance of controlling our bodies, our tongues and our thoughts, by exercising just that: self-discipline.
To get a biblical example of discipline in action, let’s take a closer look at the self-disciplined side of the woman personified in Proverbs chapter 31:
- Works with eager hands (verse 13)
- Brings food from afar (verse 14)
- Gets up while it’s still dark (verse 15)
- Plants a vineyard (verse 16)
- Works vigorously (verse 17)
- Is clothed with strength and dignity (verse 25)
- Speaks with wisdom (verse 26)
- Doesn’t sit idle (verse 27)
Do some of those characteristics speak to you? Have you refused to work out because it would mean getting up a little earlier? Do you grab something quick to eat because you don’t want to take the time to get your food from afar? Do you waste too much idle time on the computer or television when you could be enriching your mind? Are you clothed with strength and dignity, or do you throw on a ball cap, slip on a ratty old t-shirt, and head out of the door praying that no one will see?
Self-disciplines when applied to our life not only bring self-respect, they also bring respect from others around us:
- Her husband has full confidence in her (verse 11)
- Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land (verse 23)
- Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her (verse 28)
- Let her works bring her praise at the city gate (verse 31)
When self-discipline is called for, many of us step back immediately, and although we may not outright admit what we’re thinking, what we’d like to say is, “Uh—no. I’m not going to sign on to anything that requires sacrifice on my part, I’d rather wait until an easier plan comes along.” And so we wait for the next quick fix that promises weight loss at no cost—perhaps it’s an all you can eat soup diet, or licking the pounds away on an ice cream diet—but we fail time and time again, because a quick fix doesn’t set the stage for tomorrow, it satisfies and gratifies the body today.
Losing weight is simple. There’s no rock that hasn’t been turned, no magic pill that waits to be found. If you struggle with weight gain and a lust toward food, then it’s a battle that needs to be fought; the only question remains “Are you willing to fight?” If you stop for a minute to find an excuse, you’ve hesitated too long. If you put it off until tomorrow, you’re waiting too long. Romans 12:1, tells us that living a life of sacrifice is an “act of spiritual worship.” Some versions call it, “your reasonable service.” Reasonable. There’s nothing unreasonable about bringing our bodies to the point where they yield to the Spirit.
I don’t suppose that the Proverbs 31 woman particularly enjoyed getting up while it was still dark, or lighting a fire while the others remained warm in their beds. And I don’t suppose that it will be easy for you either, the first time, you pass up a bag of potato chips, turn down some chocolate, or settle for water instead of a pop. But I do believe with no uncertainty that in time you will be happy with the changes you’ve made.
Perhaps the key portion of that verse, which speaks to our heart and moves us to obedience, is the word, “worship.” Imagine that—being able to worship God by giving up a part of yourself. Being able to give up the bondage that you have with food, as an act of worship to God.
All things die that we might have life. Nearly every bit of food we put in our mouth is a sacrifice in some way or another. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, lettuce, carrots, berries, nuts, and the list goes on; all once living things that have died so that we can live. Nature itself typifies the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, bringing glory to God.
Dying to ones self is an act of worship because each time we do, we reflect the passion of our Lord. And with each part we give, we reap peace in abundance.
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
~ Luke 9:23-25, NIV
iNCHS Website, article “Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Adults: United States, 2003-2004“
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.