Excessive weight gain or weight loss has never been a healthy cause to champion in life. The frustration that comes with knowing that you’ve gained/lost extra pounds—your ‘cosmetic makeup’— isn’t the major concern. The real danger is you stand the risk of developing health-related diseases that have the propensity to cause long-term health complications later in life—disability and death. This is why it stands as one of the world’s major public health concern because of its rising incidence and high death rate among individuals worldwide. Moreover, it may interest Christians to know that not only does the physical human body experience these conditions, the spirit man is also highly susceptible to them—and it’s also life-threatening! Kindly join me as we read the Great Physician’s report on this sensitive subject.
What does it mean to be ‘anorexic or obese in the spirit’? An ‘anorexic spirit’ is one that has undergone deliberate starvation of God’s Word resulting in a ‘spiritual weight loss’. An ‘obese spirit’ on the other hand piles up lots of ‘spiritual calories’ and fails to burn them, leading to weight gain. The interesting thing is both do not necessarily plan to lose or gain ‘spiritual weight’ in an unhealthy way but their choice of action unfortunately leads them to unhealthy outcomes.
How does it come about? Let’s start with the ‘anorexic Christian’. The problem here isn’t laziness. Rather, it stems from mere misconception about studying God’s Word.
Misconception #1: Following biblical instructions is pure legalism. Such people perceive the reading and studying of God’s Word as adhering to some strict rules of ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ in order to be in right standing with God. It feels like ‘checking the box’ as one will say.
Misconception #2: You don’t have to know so much of the Bible to be effective in your output. The ideology states that once a person trusts the Holy Spirit to the letter, he (she) doesn’t necessarily have to be head over heels about studying the Bible into details as the Spirit can equally equip him (her) to fight daily battles, not forgetting the promise that ‘He will teach you all things and remind you of everything…’.
And because of that, the passion to consume the Word of God—the food for the soul and spirit—is lost. End result: Excessive weight loss.
The ‘obese christian’ delights in spending time to read and study God’s Word into detail. As if that isn’t enough, he (she) consumes numerous Christian tapes and sermons from other preachers in addition to reading Christian articles, blog-posts, novels and other Christian-related write-ups. In other words, there’s a lot of packing and packing and packing and…yeah, lots of packing BUT ZERO PROCESSING. And this marks the dawn of excessive weight gain—more ‘spiritual calories’ are taken in than the spirit man burns, and the excess is stored as ‘spiritual fat’. End result: Excessive weight gain.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Lifestyle Modification. The solution to these conditions rests upon life-long behavioral changes.
Diet. Watch what and how you eat. Not everything you come across on the internet or the bookshop is safe for ‘consumption’. Just as you make time to visit the ‘customer review’ section to check the integrity of a product when making an order online, develop that same habit to test the integrity of every Christian material you come across because some are meant to build you up while others will show no mercy in tearing you apart.
How do you eat at home? You make every effort to eat properly, to eat a balanced diet that meets your body’s requirement for healthy growth and development. In a balanced diet, you find the body-builders, the energy-boosters and the immune boosters. In the same way, don’t be too one-sided with your Bible study. Learn to explore other areas of God’s Word. Build a solid foundation (body-builders) by reading the Historical Books of both the Old and New Testaments to learn the story of Israel and Jesus Christ (and the Church) respectively. Boost your spiritual energy with revelations and encouragement from the Prophetical Books of the Bible. Make an appointment with the Poetical Books. These are ‘high-fiber diets’ (rich in wisdom) required to loosen up your ‘spiritual bowels’ so that your spirit man can empty any junk that isn’t profitable from its system. Don’t skip the Epistles, visit them too. While they carefully instruct you on Christian doctrine, they also offer protection by teaching you how to fight against similar attacks that hit the Early Church (immune boosters). And as you do that, spend ample time to research more into your findings by using reliable Bible tools, not forgetting the power of prayer and meditation. This way you’re less likely to develop stunted growth in any area of your life.
Exercise. Make every effort to live out what you learn from the scriptures. Don’t just stockpile biblical teachings into your spirit. The weightlifter doesn’t build muscles by watching them self-inflate miraculously. No. He puts his knowledge about bodybuilding into practice. He works out tirelessly (despite the many failures that may come his/her way) until the desired outcome is seen. The same applies to the Christian. Once you receive the Word, step out of your comfort zone and live it out. Better to always try and even fail at something than to fail to try because belief without corresponding actions is dead. Someone once said that ‘those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.’ A similar lesson to take home; if you have no time to build up your spirit man now, prepare then to find time to deal with the avalanche of trouble that is ready to come your way soon.
Develop the right mindset. Concerning Misconception #1, living according to God’s Word isn’t a legalistic practice UNLESS your motive behind your actions are ‘I have to do this and that in order to make the man upstairs happy and probably get to heaven’. That’s a wrong mindset. Your total obedience to God’s Word—an act of the will to align our lives with His commands—must be driven by a genuine love to live an honorable life that is so much pleasing to the One who gave His life as a ransom for you. Once you set your motive right, you come to know and understand that you delight to study God’s Word because of an inexplicable love that has captured your soul.
Concerning Misconception #2, one example for illustration. You hear people say that one doesn’t have to be so knowledgeable in the scriptures when going out to evangelize as it’s the Holy Spirit who does the conviction and not us. That is very true. The work of a Christian is not to do the conviction because no man draws ANY soul to Christ; it is the work of the Spirit of God to draw men unto Himself. But don’t forget that we are the ones called to go out and announce this good news. Yes, we are not alone because we have the Holy Spirit to direct our paths so we act in line with God’s word to be efficient and effective. But how can we effectively reach out to someone if we don’t even know how to blend into the culture of our surroundings as per what the Bible teaches? How can we be useful out there, if we are ignorant of how the apostles went about soul winning? How can we even tell when and when not to visit a particular vicinity to spread the good news? The Bible was documented for a purpose: to teach us what is right, what is not right, how to get right and how to stay right. The only way to become complete and efficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for the tasks God has for us is if we make a conscious effort to study what the Bible teaches. This is the reason why we can’t lazy about by clasping our hands together and offering prayers wrapped around the mindset that the Holy Spirit is going out there to do our work for us while we sit in our small corners looking out for the miracle of people trooping into the church in their numbers. Be reminded that you also have the responsibility to study to know how to approach your hearers. As for the Holy Spirit, the ‘paraclete’ (Greek word which is translated as ‘Comforter’ which means ‘One called alongside to help’), He was not sent to come do our job for us. He was sent to come HELP us carry out OUR responsibility. All He does is to lead, guide and push us gently. We are expected to yield to all these promptings, step out there and proclaim the glad tidings. Develop a wrong mindset concerning this or any other portion of scripture in the Bible and the whole purpose of what it desires to communicate becomes defeated.
The ‘anorexic christian’ shouldn’t be the only one advised to develop a right mindset. The ‘obese christian’ must pay heed to this caution too. And once you begin to feed on God’s Word, remember to eat a balanced diet and don’t forget to work out your ‘spiritual calories’.
Physician’s remarks: Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God — the free life! —even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. (James 1:22-25 MSG)