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FIRST-PERSON: Good health requires fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–After a lengthy conversation with Valerie regarding her increasing weight and overall decline in health, I began to process some of the motivations and requirements for a Christian to live a healthy, Christ-honoring lifestyle.

It seems that a deeper motivation for good health should exist for believers. As Christ-followers, we are given the mission of sharing the Good News of Jesus with a lost world. While this requires spiritual, mental and emotional readiness, it also requires physical readiness. To be fully ready to go about our mission we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians to live lives full of the characteristics of the Spirit of God is a good measure not only for our spiritual and relational health but also our physical health.

Let’s look at how three of these qualities directly impact the choices we make for good health:

LOVE. In Mark 12:31 Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, love your neighbor to the level that you love and respect yourself. This is not a proud, arrogant, self-focused love, but an appreciation for the gift God gave you in your body. God specifically constructed the body He gave you with all its uniqueness. Your body is a ministry tool that God works through. God doesn’t just love your soul; He loves your body as well. We are more motivated to properly care for what we love and respect. When you love and care for yourself, you are also better equipped to love and care for others.

PATIENCE. In our fast pace and instant society, we expect improvements in our health to happen quickly. Thus, the weight loss industry is approximately a $41 billion industry with more “magic cures” for weight loss popping up every day. The bottom line is, weight gain occurred over a period of time and weight loss will also. It took my friend, Nancy, two years to safely lose 120 pounds. Nancy’s secret was to patiently make the best food and exercise choices every day. Do what you know is right and the results will take care of themselves, whether it’s weight loss, lowering cholesterol or improving physical strength.

SELF-CONTROL. 1 Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit that allows you to say “No” to foods that are not beneficial to your body, to eat foods that will improve your health, to stop eating when you are full, to go for a walk even when you really don’t want to, to go to the doctor for an annual checkup, to properly manage your stress, to avoid “quick-fix” weight-loss gimmicks, and to follow your doctor’s recommendations for better health. Self-control also is called discipline and both are painful at times but the long-term rewards are worth the short-term discomfort.

I’m convinced that Satan is slowly eroding the impact of Christians on our world by keeping many of us sick, unhealthy, tired and apathetic. If Satan can just reduce our effectiveness in the world through our ministry and missions, then he can better advance his agenda. To turn this tide we must be aware of all the tactics Satan uses and prepare ourselves by being continually filled with the Spirit and allowing the fruit of that filling to flow into every area of our lives including our health.
Branda Polk is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer and wellness coach in Memphis, Tenn.

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  • Branda Polk