When you think about this verse in terms of your recovery, how does it apply to you? For me, in exploring this verse through the lens of recovery, I began to realize that I had been sacrificing my body, but not to worship God. Was I sacrificing to worship an idol or was I trying to create my body into an idol for others to worship…or both? What if instead of exercising to lose weight or to get smaller hips or a flatter stomach, I worked out to get stronger? What if I spent less time working out and more time serving others, caring for my family, studying God’s Word? Would this be an offering that would be acceptable to God?
To me, “offering my body as a living sacrifice” eventually brought me to explore how my faith impacted my physical exercise. How do I use exercise to strengthen my body so that God can use me? Instead of “How do I exercise to get thinner, to get the perfect body, to lose the fat? At this stage in my recovery, I began thinking about how I cared for my body in terms of how I was using it as an offering to God. This helped me and has continued to help me develop many positive guidelines to keep me healthy in recovery. I began to ask myself a series of questions. Even today, if I feel like my fitness might be interfering with my faith or in contradiction with it, I can always go back to these guidelines to help me stay on track.
- What has God asked of my physical body? (ex. caring for my children)
- Is doing my current exercise routine inhibiting or helping that purpose? (ex. When I was struggling with my anorexia, my extreme exercise not only took a great deal of time, but also caused so much fatigue, I had no energy for my children…not like “I’m tired at the end of the day”, but “I can’t get off the couch…when is bedtime?” kind of tired.)
- What types of exercises would be helpful to me? What might be harming my body? (this varies at different times and different seasons, but if your body is hurting, that’s probably a reason to review the exercise that is causing the pain. Another way to think about it is- what exercises can I do to help me do what God wants me to do?)
- What is my motivation for this exercise? (ex. Am I doing this to get stronger, build endurance, etc. or did I choose this because a magazine article told me it burns the most calories or so that I can fit into my prom dress?//What will happen when I can do 100 situps? Will that help me further the Kingdom of God?)
- Is this exercise causing me to sin? (ex. Do I lie about how much I exercise? Do I fail to love my neighbor because I am too busy to cook a meal, babysit, have a visit?)
There are many more questions we could ask ourselves that might help us determine if the way we treat our bodies is helping us offer our bodies as living sacrifices…I haven’t even gone into other ways we care for (or disregard) our bodies—how we nourish it, how we dress it, or cover it. All of those things, too, play a role in how we fulfill Romans 12:1.
One of the things I have come to realize is that this is an ever-changing, evolving process for me…learning how to offer my body as a living sacrifice. What this meant for me early in my recovery and what it means for me now (we will discuss next CORErecovery post) are different things. How God asks me to offer my body is different from how He might ask you. There is not one formula that we can follow in order to get it right. God doesn’t give us an easy answer, perhaps because He wants us to constantly seek Him, call on Him to guide us in being good stewards of the gift of our bodies.
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11
As we seek the Lord this week, let us continue to think about how we can offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and what we might have to give up in order to do so.