Psalm 141:3-4 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers;
let me not eat of their delicacies.
I hadn’t realized there was a dieter’s proof-text in the Bible! Verse three first caught my eye, because I am very much a man of words and I presumed David was talking about speech here. But then I got to the end of verse four and I realized it was talking about what goes into the mouth, not what comes out! Obesity is something of a national plague in the US at this point, with over half the population overweight. The seriousness of that has been driven home with the corona virus pandemic, because the most common “co-morbidity,” and actually one of the most predictive of a poor outcome, has been obesity. Countless people are obsessed with their weight, trying one diet after another but with little success, and many more have simply given up. I think very few people think of it in spiritual terms, but that is very much a factor. The devil wants to mess us up any way he can, and it’s much easier to do with attractive things like food than it is with unpleasant things. As always, the devil cannot create things on his own, so he miss-purposes and misuses things God created for our benefit. Delicious food certainly fits into that category, as does sex. Just as there are drug addicts, there are sex addicts and food addicts. None of that is God’s fault. James rightly pointed out, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15) That’s pretty stark, isn’t it? We make all sorts of excuses for our weight and other issues, but weight always comes down to the balance between fuel intake and energy output. You could even say it’s an engineering problem. Where the NIV says “wicked deeds,” the Japanese says, “lawlessness.” Sometimes the laws in question are as simple as the laws of physics! We are responsible as stewards of the bodies we have been given, so we need to pay attention to the “maintenance rules” set by the “manufacturer.”
I well remember the first time we visited the US after we had moved to Omura, and we took a young woman from our church with us. We had a layover in LAX, and we went to a coffee shop. The Japanese girl’s eyes were quickly riveted on a woman who had put two chairs together to sit on, and she overflowed on both sides! We had to dissuade our friend from asking the lady if she could take her picture! Frankly, and sadly, that sort of scene is not uncommon any more. I have personally been blessed with a fairly good metabolism and have stayed active, though I’ve never been into sports. At the point I was nearing the age at which my father died, 64, I decided I needed to be more serious about my health maintenance, and joined the city gym. That turned out to be inconvenient in a number of ways, and I switched to regular walking, which I have maintained since. Still, I have “love handles” that don’t please me, and I could stand to lose about 5kg. I have long maintained that as excellent a cook as my wife is, it’s a miracle I’m not grossly overweight! However, that’s an excuse. It all comes down to controlling how much I take in, as my wife has demonstrated beautifully, dropping 28kg over several years without strenuous exercise, simply by watching amounts, and not by forbidding any particular type of food. With such an excellent example, I have no excuse!
Father, thank You for this very unexpected reminder! Help me indeed be a good steward of this body You’ve given me, and help me be an encouragement to others to do likewise, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!