Honor your temple, treasure yourself

The human experience was designed by an infinitely wise, understanding and knowledgeable God and our bodies are a dwelling for the Holy Spirit, for those who believe. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore Honor God with your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Honoring God with our bodies requires us to respect ourselves. This can look not only like being physically active, eating healthy and behaving modestly, but also like reading the Bible and praying, befriending our emotions, confronting our desires and thoughts, and loving our enemies. In order for us to function properly and follow Jesus well, we need to care for each of those areas, as we are able to. 

Have you ever experienced a dream come true only to feel unfulfilled and depressed? This past summer, a childhood hope of mine came to pass as I attended a Graduate English Literature Summer Program at Exeter College, University of Oxford. My experience was tainted by my inability to acknowledge my own sin, and my lack of wisdom, patience and proper sleep that summer. My longing to go to this school overarched my care to listen to God’s voice and live with rhythm. Having graduated from UCF that summer online while attending the program, and with many other stressful factors having come into play, I was led to humiliation as my body physically started to give out on me. I was exhausted and anxious. When we’re not truly in tune with the Spirit, we miss out on the chance for God to show us the full glory he intended for our lives. We’re left with shreds of dreams.

Surrendering to the need for a healthy relationship infused with grace, between physical body, soul and community goes hand in hand with sanctification. At the end of the day, it is all connected. 

Spiritual 

Truly honoring our temple is next to impossible without abiding in Christ, and while that is rewarding, he is not a means to an end. His fruit is sweet, but he is better. The shepherd of our souls not only inspires us, but transforms us when we allow him to, impacting our spirit, physical health and involvement in life. 

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Physical 

Generally speaking, to care for our physical health we do the essentials: exercise, get proper sleep, drink water, eat nutritiously, take vitamins and stay sober-minded. At times though, this simple list can be difficult. We have to stay up late to coddle a crying baby, complete work assignments, or attend social events. Physical activity can often seem to be the hardest of them all. Our need to exercise can make us feel as if we’ve been placed under an arbitrary curse; why would a loving father require us to endure physical pain in order to participate in something so consequential? Yet if we shift our perspective and view our body’s ability to move as something to celebrate, we can become thankful for exercise. Not only that, but exercise leads us to take delight in God, who gave us the strength to workout and is so good that He wired us with a reward system. Can you say endorphins? Learning to see God’s grace within our exertion throughout exercise allows us to leverage it as a spiritual experience. Talk about increased incentive. Despite our desire for physical beauty, God is mainly interested in our health and our soul, He is not concerned with our looks the way the secular world is. 

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” ‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:7.

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Soul I - Mind 

Mental and physical health overlap, so we are likely to have good mental health if we take care of those essentials that work for our physical health, but part of caring for our mental health requires spiritual tactics. Similar to jealousy and envy, the brain and the mind are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct. The brain is physical, while the mind is not. The mind is defined as: the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel. It is part of what typically defines the soul: mind, will and emotions. What resides in our soul is crucial, because our thoughts, feelings, and desires affect our actions. Caring for our soul is God’s primary concern in regards to health and when we care for our soul with Him we “coincidentally” are more apt to take care of our overall health. In the process, we honor God with our bodies. 

 “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” 1 Timothy 4:8.

Examine your thoughts. Address the lies in your mind about God’s character, your identity and other important topics. Talk to Jesus, tell him your doubts, fears, cares, etc. He died not just for your salvation, but for you to have an abundant life. He is a good, good father, who wants you to like yourself and dream big. As his creations, we honor him when we like ourselves. 

Having the right thoughts is pivotal, but they won’t automatically alter our feelings. Acting on the truth with wisdom, despite our emotions, is part of what seeps head knowledge into heart knowledge. Ask God to help you experience truth. Glorifying Him is an endeavor we take on using both our head and heart. 

Mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc.) are real and can be very heavy burdens to bear. There is no shame in seeking help from someone, be that a counselor or doctor, or sharing it with trusted family, friends, or mentors for support.

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Soul II - Emotions 

Emotions are a gift and tool from God, but they are not always enjoyable. When we allow ourselves to be present with both our negative and positive emotions, instead of pushing them under the rug or being compelled by them, we reap a harvest. They are not our ultimate source of truth, but they are worth listening to. As we share our emotions with God or friends we open ourselves up to healing and cultivate deep relationships. Vulnerability at its best begins with talking to yourself. 

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Soul III - Will 

Aside from digging into our emotions, we also need to ask ourselves what is driving us. The Bible tells us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. So we lay down our longings at Jesus’ feet because he is good and knows best. Love is what prompts his commands. Through obedience and wisdom we guard our hearts, which is so significant because everything we do flows from them (Proverbs 4:23). At times we are consciously disobedient and other times we are blind to it. That is why we should strive to be self-aware and allow God to purify our motives, because His thoughts and ways are higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8). As we abide in the Lord, our desires will align with His. Our righteousness is not our own, but it arises from the overflowing love of God. 

Social 

God created us for community; for enjoyment, encouragement, accountability, love, etc. He does not want us to isolate our hearts. We need friends who will not only make us laugh, but who will walk alongside us, know us deeply, and kindly point us back to truth when we lose sight of it. “Our enemy, the devil,” prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Meaningful friendship helps us to fight the enemy and defeat sin. Yes, individually we have a direct connection to God, but there is also power in humility. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:16. As Christians, we reflect Christ to those around us. It’s not our titles that make us leaders, but our positive actions grounded in Christ. If we’re healthy in private, we are more apt to be healthy in public, shining a light onto others. 

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We are adored by our creator; He desires for us to pursue health and to see ourselves through His eyes. While we are each a part of His collection of masterpieces, we are also all simultaneously growing in grace, becoming more like Him. That is a reality we are going to face for the rest of our lives, but contentment comes in knowing that none of us are exempt and that in Jesus we find comfort, satisfaction, healing, strength, and freedom. So, honor your temple, and respect yourself. In the process, we not only treasure Christ, but ourselves and others too. 

Megan Young



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