By this we shall KNOW that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him, for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and He knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. I John 3:19-22
What does your heart say about your health? What slips into your spirit when you consider your physical condition? After you’ve gone on an eating binge what do you say to yourself? Does it sound something like this: “You are such a loser! You have NO willpower or self-control! You’ll never lose weight. You’re doomed to be fat forever!!”
Now sister, do you think your heavenly Father would speak to you that way? His Word commands, “8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9)
And David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 says: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Are your demeaning, self-incriminating words lovely, honorable or helpful? Since you see the need to judge yourself, remember Brother Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Gal 6:1)
And what about the fruit of the spirit? Is that what you’re seeing in yourself when you’ve strayed from God’s guidance? “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (with yourself and others), kindness (to you too), goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (with your words as well as your walks.)
Now let’s muse on the words of Brother John above. “…whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows everything.”
OK then. You went to the church potluck and piled your plate with decadent desserts. Oh! Wasn’t it marvelous in the moment! But after you got home, freed yourself from your Sunday-best, you donned your sloppy sweat pants because your belly felt as big as a beach ball. You’re stuffed to nauseousness and repulsed with your lack of dining discipline. So the rest of the day you’re cranky with everyone near and spitting venom at yourself for your slovenliness. As Dr. Phil would ask, “How’s that working out for you?” Does it prepare you for your next tangle against the devil? Does it tighten your tether to your Father? Does your pitiful pouting produce fruit?
No! No! and NO!
When your conscience is cursing you, bring your bellyache to the Lord! Confess that yet again you succumbed to the fleeting passions of the flesh. Instead of claiming Divine strength over desserts you deserted your worthy calling to care for your temple and bent to the enemy’s luring lies. “It’s been a rough week. You deserve a little sweet comfort. This one meal won’t matter (even though you ate enough sugar for the month of May…).
Cast your cares and your crying heart on Him, dear saints, because He cares for you! He knows you have the temptation and tendency to seek comfort from food vs. your Father. But never, NEVER forget: The Lord is slow to anger and abounding – overflowing – with steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression…” (Numbers 14:18) He is ever present in your times of regret.
But what WILL bother Him is if you stay mired in the mud! Stuck in your pity party! No sister, any time we stray from the Father’s will and ways we are called to confess, reassess, change course and be cleansed!
Confess. With a broken and contrite heart, that heart that has been condemning you, acknowledge His steadfast love with thanksgiving and express your sorrow for sabotaging the holy temple – place of residence – of His Holy Spirit. While you’re on your knees, honestly ask yourself, are you remorseful because your tummy has a tornado in it or are you genuinely sorrowful that you rebelled against God’s call to moderation, discipline and self-care? Recite the familiar confessional liturgy: Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. Memorize and personalize Lamentations 5:21: “Restore me to yourself, O Lord, that I may be restored!” Consider the confession from The Golden Key of Heaven: A Manual of Prayer, by Rev. J. Milner, D.D., published by John Baptist Steinbrener, Catholic Publisher, circa 1900: “Almighty and most merciful God, who has made me out of nothing, and redeemed me by the precious blood of Thy only Son; who has borne with me to this day with so much patience, notwithstanding my sins and ingratitude, behold me, O Lord! Prostrate at Thy feet to implore Thy forgiveness. I desire most sincerely to leave all my evil ways, to forsake this region of death where I have so long lost myself, and to return to Thee, the Fountain of life.”
Now get up and determine to forsake that region of death by dessert at the next godly gathering.
Reassess. What can you do differently the next time Satan is trying to seduce you to eat something that doesn’t truly satisfy? Have you rallied a gaggle of gals you can call in times of temptation, and to whom you are accountable for your choices? Brother James says, “19My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (5:19-20) And according to Ecclesiastes 4:12, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Since you know the church potluck happens the first Sunday of every month, can’t you plan to bring your own sweet treat of yogurt and fresh berries? And if you want a piece of Mable’s pecan pie, couldn’t you savor just a small slice?
Change Course. Yep, you’re stuck in your sweats the rest of the afternoon because you’re feeling so bulbous. But by supper time the opportunity to repent - to change your dining direction- arises. Before you open the fridge meditate on I Peter 2:11, “11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Oh yes! You understand that war against your soul! But your Father is all about second chances so celebrate His bounty with a colorful supper salad.
Be Clean! Sing unto the Lord a new song! Give thanks for His transforming grace and steadfast love! “Thank You, Lord, that I am a new creation in You. My flesh didn’t get that memo at last week’s fellowship but now my Spirit through the power of Your Word is back in charge. I celebrate this learning experience! And I will use it to support someone else this week.” Who do you know whose heart is condemning them over their lack of fitness? Call them up right now (oh… folks no longer use their phones for talking, do they..?) and invite them to walk with you this week. Stir one another up to love and good deeds! For the Body is called to love one another.