Denying through dieting is enslaving but denying through Jesus is liberating. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
Here's what diets promise, "If you follow me and deny yourself of cravings, you'll finally get the body you want. Just be careful to do exactly what I tell you or you won't reach your goals. It's important to remember that you're doing this for you so don't mess up. Just trust me, once you lose the weight you'll finally be happy. I promise."
Here's what Jesus promises, "If you follow me and deny yourself, you will find real joy. Be careful to listen to my direction because I have good plans for your life. I will catch you if you fall, and I will always give you grace. You can always trust in me, because that's where you will find true contentment. I promise."
I remember when I was dieting I literally felt enslaved. If I messed up, the voice in my head would shame me and tell me to never screw up again. Jesus's voice sounds a lot different. There is mercy in His words,
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29
How beautiful is that? Where else can we find soul rest other than in the arms of our gracious king Jesus. You do not have to be at war with your body. Jesus says come and find rest.
Deciding to do health Jesus’s way does not give you license to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. In fact, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says,
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
Scripture even says that you are not your own. In the next verse Paul goes onto say,
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."
The heart of the gospel is that we are sinners saved by grace purchased through the perfect and redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. We are not our own. He died for us, so we live for Him. That means in every area of life, complete surrender to Him - even with our bodies and food choices.
The cross is the greatest example that nothing good comes easy. The scriptures are clear: if we want to be faithful followers of Jesus we must deny ourselves. You lose yourself to find yourself. And I so desperately wanted to be found. I was lost in an eating disorder and I knew I needed help to get back to shore. That’s when I discovered that at the end of myself I found Him.
I will never forget the night when I had come to the end of myself. Sixteen year old me cried until not a tear was left. I didn’t want to be enslaved to an eating disorder anymore. I wanted to be free. And I knew freedom didn’t come easy. But I was willing. It was not a will that came from my own strength, but that of the Spirit within me. Giving up your desires is hard and nearly impossible to do on your own, but with the help of the Holy Spirit it's liberating. And yes my sweet friend, you can do it too.
The promises of scripture not only light our paths for the present, but they give us a light at the end of the tunnel too. You can do it. God is with you and for you! You are strong. You are brave. Now go.
Grace & Peace,