Therefore honor God with your body.
People love to use this verse from 1 Corinthians 6:20 when it comes to getting healthy in the new year. Total transparency – my fitness goals for 2018 have not started off strong at all. I have been fighting a nasty head cold since New Years day, have only been to the gym once, and it has thrown off my eating and sleeping habits as well. It does not feel as if I’ve been honoring God with my body at all. Not cool.
Many people have used this Scripture to not only promote a healthy lifestyle, but also to argue the inappropriateness of Christians engaging in alcohol consumption, tattoos, earrings on men, and even eating disorders. However, when reading the context of Paul’s letter (the verses before and after), and knowing the historical background of his audience, we see that his main idea was to correct them concerning sexual promiscuity. Corinth was known for their prostitution and how it was actually associated with pagan religious practices. This was a practice that can be traced back to the worship of Baal and other pagan Gods. You can even see it’s role in early Jewish history in Genesis 38:11-30 when Judah slept with who he thought was a shrine prostitute that ended up being his daughter-in-law.
The principle that Paul addresses is that cultural blind spots need to be corrected. Here he discusses the matter of sexual immorality. At other times he addresses eating food that was offered to idols (1 Corinthians 8:1-13), honoring and supporting leadership (Romans 13:1-7), or addressing a woman’s role in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:9-15). These passages are difficult to understand and realize the deeper meaning if we don’t realize the author’s context and historical relevancy. All of these passages are addressing cultural blind spots that were directly effecting their theology which led to failure in their practical Christianity.
Getting back to our original thought concerning honoring God with our body, go ahead and read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Although we understand that Paul was addressing sexual promiscuity in the church, let’s look at a few general principles that we can apply to our every day lives.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples 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 bodies.”
Truth be told, if we don’t take care of our bodies, we will not enjoy life as much or as long as God intended. When Jesus told us that He came to give us life to the fullest (John 10:10), this included our physical, emotional, and spiritual life. Realizing that all three are intricately tied together, we need to maintain them responsibly. After all, it is where the Spirit of God God resides.
Here is what that means for me practically: proper diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, plenty of social interaction and a balance of work and play. What does that look like for you?
Slavery was very common in Paul’s day. A person could go to an auction or to another slave owner and purchase a slave like property and therefore change the slave’s ownership. Paul tells us in another one of his letters that I have literally been purchased from slavery of sin unto righteousness (Romans 6:15-18). The price tag for my freedom was the death of God’s only Son, Jesus. Life for life. There has been a change in ownership and I now belong to God. In fact, not only am I no longer a slave to sin, I am also an heir of God with Christ (Romans 8:17).
That simple word “therefore” caries with it a heavy responsibility for the reader. Basically it is the beginning of an emphatic statement meaning now because of what you have just been told, you must act. To honor means to show respect and preference. For me it means to respect how I use my body and seek to bring Him glory. It doesn’t matter if it’s culturally acceptable (such as sleeping with temple prostitutes) if it disrespects my body and doesn’t bring God glory.
My conclusion is that my body is really not mine but His. He paid a high price for me and now I need to honor Him by how I use it. Understanding that my body, mind and spirit are all interconnected brings a greater sense of urgency to promote balanced healthy living. I hope that this has stirred your thought process today because it has definitely stirred mine.
For further study read: Romans 6:16-22; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Galatians 2:19-20
- Having read through today’s Scriptures, where do you stand concerning the cultural acceptability of consuming alcohol, smoking cigarets or weed, gluttony or other eating disorders, tattoos, piercing, extreme sports, etc.
- Realizing both that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the high price that was paid for it, how has it changed your perspective on your own physical health?
- In what ways are your honoring God with your body?