The holidays are fast ending as your waist line is fast expanding. The turkey and stuffing were great, the apple pie was out of this world and Christmas dinner was the icing on the cake. You haven’t denied your eyes or stomach anything that they craved. It’s been full stream ahead. Yet, the season is passing and there stands a formidable mountain ahead of you. The bulges in your stomach are beginning to resemble the wave of the Chesapeake Bay during one of those famous nor’easters.
It’s time for change. The next thought is DIET. You plan on not eating for a week! On second thought, you decide on only stuffing down apples and green beans until the first of February and start training for that marathon that has always eluded you. Your tight pants are beginning to strain your breathing. It’s either buy a new wardrobe or suck it up and start new again.
The Bible has many answers for life’s complex problems but I bet you never guessed that it has a diet made just for you. This one doesn’t cost you a dime, and in fact, will same you money in the near and far term. The concept comes from Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
The concept of the diet is rather simple. We must “deny” ourselves. We must adopt the attitude that giving up something that we desire is a good thing for our waste line, and our spiritual condition. Choosing to give up something for the greater good is an age-old concept that has weathered the test of time. If you think about it for a second, you do this all the time, and often times, without thinking about it.
Men, you choose not to flirt with that woman because you are married. You weigh the consequences and rightly decide it’s a bad idea. Ladies, you choose help the kids with homework because you can’t imagine them as high school dropouts. We choose to go to work each day because we like a roof over our heads and a car to drive and food to eat. We choose to deny ourselves that big-ticket item because it would throw us into too much debt.
Choosing to not eat so much food has some fabulous consequences. We save money! Who wants to save money? We look better. Who doesn’t want to be noticed? We don’t have to buy new, bigger, bulkier clothes. We choose to deny ourselves and the blessings of better health are smiling down at us. Who wants to live a long life? How many obese people do you see walking around in their 80s and 90s? The benefits far outweigh the sweet joy of one more bowl of ice cream.
It’s time for me to come clean. I love Breyers chocolate ice cream. It’s almost a religious experience for me. And I know just how to eat it for maximum pleasure. A professional ice cream tester came by the television station years ago and showed me the top secret method of eating that icy treat.
1. Don’t, and I repeat, don’t put your ice cream in a plastic bow. That is a cardinal sin! A glass or coffee mug is the preferred way to eat it.
2. Make sure the ice cream is rock hard when you dig it from the carton. Then, once it’s in the mug and sitting there just begging you to have your way with it, you wait. And wait. And wait. Give it three or four minutes and then sit down and hold the mug with your hand covering the outside of the cup. Slowly and methodically, take small scoops of the slowly melting desert from heaven from the side of the mug and enjoy!
My wife will not let me go to the grocery store because of this addiction. She knows 16 servings on the box really means two “Jon” servings. She knows I wiggle in the bed all night after indulging. I have a very hard time walking past the ice cream freezer and saying “no”.
But saying “no” is exactly what I have to do to keep my weight down and my marriage intact. “No” is a word we Americans don’t like to hear. Yet, we tell young kids that all the time.
“Don’t touch the stove! It will burn you,” we say to our kids.
“Don’t run in the parking lot. You could get run over!”
“Don’t eat that mushroom in the yard. It could be poisonous.”
“Don’t hit your sister, you could hurt her.”
God is our Father in heaven and we are His children. We certainly do not know as much as Him nor could we ever dream of it. He tells us to “deny ourselves” because it’s good for the soul and for the waist line. I’ve been a Christian for more than 20 years and have yet to hear a sermon on gluttony. The book of Proverbs, considered the great book of wisdom in the Bible, has some unique insight into this subject. It says, “and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”
Wow! Talk about some vivid imagery! Gluttony is defined as “the act or practice of eating to excess.” We no longer live to eat but rather eat to live. Food becomes a passion, an idol in our lives that helps us to cope and brings emotional joy. Instead, God wants to be that passion and joy in your life. He blesses us when we deny ourselves and focus on Him rather than ourselves.
God’s diet places Him at the center of our lives. It helps us to understand that our bodies are His temple and that we are to take care of the temple that He, and He alone, created. The next time you are tempted to overeat, ask yourself this question. “What would God want me to do?” When you place Him in the eating equation, you might be pleasantly surprised by your ability to simply say “no”.
Good things happen to people who eat less. This is an irrefutable fact. So let’s start thinking on a spiritual level and give up something we love. And I will lead the charge. No more Breyers ice cream for one month! God, I promise!