Do you want to be healthy? I’ll take a gamble here and assume your answer is “yes,” right? But there is another pressing question related to the first, and I’m not sure I can easily answer that one for you. While it’s safe to assume someone wants to be healthy, what is not quite as simple is discerning the answer to this question: Why do you want to be healthy?
What motivates you to be healthy?
What is the reason you move your body toward the brink of exhaustion? What causes you to think twice about sitting down with that pint of ice cream and devouring every last spoonful?
The common denominator: we all want results.
Most people desperately want to lose a few pounds. They’re disgusted with how difficult it has become to execute even the most basic physical movements (e.g.: putting on shoes, walking up stairs). They’re frustrated by easily becoming short of breath after a brief walk across the room. With nearly thirty percent of Americans classified as clinically obese, this is no small matter. Weight loss is a desired goal for many Americans.
Some women would love to drop a few dress sizes. Still others may be driven to gain and maintain a lean physique complete with a washboard abdomen. You may not be obese, or even overweight. But you know that you would significantly increase your dating potential if you toned up your body and were capable of sliding into some form fitting attire.
And who can blame the individual who simply doesn’t want to struggle with digestive issues and a variety of preventable illnesses? Physical appearance may not motivate you. Maybe you have just come to reckon with the simple fact that the quality of your health is profoundly determined by what is going on internally.
Ah yes, how we dream about achieving those healthy results.
You and I are so results driven that we can become quite giddy at the sound of the phrase “results guaranteed!” It’s sweet candy to our ears. But unfortunately we have become so consumed with results that we often distract ourselves from the actual means required to achieve those goals.
While the acquisition of the vast number of healthy goals are quite noble, it makes me wonder if we have properly focused our attention upon the primary reason you and I should even begin to consider seeking a healthy life.
Is our simple motivation to look and feel healthy sufficient to obtain a truly vibrant and healthy lifestyle?
You and I don’t necessarily need different goals for health and fitness, what we need is a motivation of superior quality.
The delightful results of acquiring a slim physique, comfortably sliding into a skinnier pair of jeans, developing larger muscles, and experiencing fewer encounters with illnesses should not be the primary goal, but rather the byproduct of proper motivation: faithfully stewarding a wonderful gift – your body.
Once you experience results of varying degrees (e.g. reaching your ideal body weight), the desire to further improve your health may soon dissipate. And often does. Those results we once thought would bring us joy and satisfaction, we soon discover produces discontentment. Thus begins the hopeless journey toward perfect health. A journey that always ends in failure (or death). Your efforts eventually wane and become stagnant. But when your primary objective is no longer a particular fitness result, but a simple desire to care for a body which God has graciously given you, that is the type of motivation that never ceases and is radically fruitful.
Cultivating the proper motivation: Reality. Grace. Hope.
Our sad Reality.
Our health suffers from the consequences of sin. Disease, obesity and weakness are all results of the fall. This is a reality we are forced to reckon with. Living a healthy life is difficult.
There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
There is Grace.
Our Bodies are Gifts. Our bodies were created by God. Your body is God’s grace to you. After all, it’s not as though you or I did anything to earn the right to exist or have our very own body. Yet God not only made your body, he also intended it to reflect his glory in creation and to serve him as well as others.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”
Furthermore, God’s acceptance of you is unconditional (including his acceptance of our bodies). God doesn’t love his children any less if they are overweight. We’re fragile people, broken by sin. Yet, we’re covered by the immeasurable grace of Jesus.
We have Hope.
Our frail, aging, diseased bodies will one day be replaced with gloriously restored and indestructible bodies. No matter how healthy you currently believe you are, your best body is yet to come.
1 Corinthians 15:42-43
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
The Shaping of an Anti-Result Perspective
Instead of measuring your health and body image against the unstable bogus standards of the world, recognize that your body and your health are gifts meant to give God glory.
Rather than allow pop culture, with its ridiculous standards of beauty, to dictate our desired results, we should be motivated by stewardship. Is my body healthy enough to adequately serve others?
When you imagine growing older, instead of waging war against the inevitable effects of aging, we should desire health for the sake of prolonged existence. We want to serve God and others for as many years as are graciously permitted.
When you and I are healthy, we’re more prepared to love, serve and bless others. We won’t fatigue so quickly, and we’re not overwhelmed by requests for help.
So be healthy…whether you get results, or not.