Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Many of us are familiar with the phrase, “Your body is a temple.” For some this is a motivation for physical exercise. Although this phrase is true…the body IS a temple, I think the worldview that implies the body is OUR temple can cause us to have some potentially destructive habits. This is where having a FAITHful fitness focus comes in handy. When we think of our bodies as our own personal temple..a thing for people to worship, something that must be kept “perfect”, a place of constant focus for our minds, this leads us into paying more attention to what the temple LOOKS like rather than the sturdiness of the structure itself (what we LOOK like), and what is at the CORE of our temple (the strength of our spirits).
Today’s verse reminds us that our bodies are in fact temples, but not our own…we are the temple…the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Our focus in our daily lives (fitness pursuits and otherwise) is to create a temple for God’s Spirit in us. The focus is not on what is on the outside of the temple. Rather, it is what is on the INSIDE (His Spirit) that is the true goal. Another verse from 1 Corinthians helps us here:
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. 1 Corinthians 19-20
How does this apply to my exercise routine? (or lack thereof)
When we choose an exercise method/plan/activity, there are a few things we can ask ourselves:
1. Is doing this going to help me/equip me to do something that God has called me to do? (taking care of a family member, participating in Youth activities at church, homemaking, working, volunteering in the community, etc.)
2. Am I doing this to “fix” a certain body part that I think doesn’t look good enough? (*More on this in later weeks, just go with me on this one.)
3. Do I sacrifice things I know I should be doing in order to “get in the workout”? (time with family, quiet Bible Study, REST)
4. Will I feel like a failure if I don’t do the exercise/finish the plan/stick to the method? (there is NO condemnation in Christ, so any degrading of self does not come from Him)
When the purpose of our days is to honor God WITH our bodies instead of just honoring our bodies, we can know that we are working to create and maintain a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell within us.
Maybe you are thinking that you can’t identify with this. “I don’t worship my body…I HATE it!!” Even when we struggle with poor body/self-image, we are still focusing on body/self. We are straining to see in ourselves the “image” that WE think we must have…that ideal, that idol. We are turning our temples of the Holy Spirit into temples of other’s expectations, ideals, and images. Our bodies weren’t meant to be temples for other things…our bodies were especially created for God’s purposes and His Spirit dwelling in us.
Perhaps you feel like your body is not good enough to be a temple for the Holy Spirit, not because you take too much care of the outside, but because of what is going on with you on the inside. Do you feel like your mind and spirit have been abandoned by God.. do you hurt, doubt, struggle with all of this? Have you given on both the interior and the exterior thinking that God doesn’t care about either? Beloved, God does care about you…all of you-mind, body, and spirit. You have not made too much of a mess of your life or your body to be loved by Him. Here is a verse from Isaiah 54 (message paraphrase)
“Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.
You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
and the indignities…will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Your Maker, Creator, and Sustainer is God Almighty. He can tear down the temples that the world has fashioned around us that make us feel inadequate. He will remove all obstacles when we seek to listen to His plans for us…He has perfectly designed YOU to be a temple for HIS Spirit…and a glorification of HIM.