A Love That Stays in Shape!
By Pastor Mike
What’s the connection between an out of shape Christian and loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? On the surface, you might struggle to answer that question. Maybe you’re thinking, “Pastor Mike, it’s definitely unloving for you to violate people’s eyes with your pasty-white ‘dad bod’ at a public swimming pool!” As true as that might be, that’s not the connection I’m considering!
On Sunday, January 30, I preached part two of a sermon entitled, “The Simplicity of God’s Will.” Instead of overcomplicating God’s will, the Apostle Paul nearly covers the entire topic by saying, “This is the will of God: Your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). He lays down two massive pillars of our sanctification: (1) pursuing sexual purity (4:3) and (2) pursuing brotherly love (4:9).
However, this isn’t the normal expression of love—as we might imagine it. Our normal conception of brotherly love is loving on someone, hugging someone, writing a nice note to someone, or encouraging a person in a deep struggle. That is active brotherly love. The kind of brotherly love Paul is discussing here is passive brotherly love.
1 Thessalonians 4:12 expands our understanding of this when it says, “so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.” That’s it—the passive brotherly love. A brotherly love focusing on independence from burdening other people.
Before you hijack the idea, please understand this is not the American conception of independence that says, “Give me my truck, my guns, and stay off my property!” (This blog post is not sponsored by the NRA.) That brand of independence values anonymity over community, which is the opposite of love. The independence Paul teaches values community, and therefore is concerned with irresponsible behavior which unnecessarily burdens other people.
So how does being out of shape fit into this? I’m glad you asked. After Sunday’s service, I talked with someone who brought up a great point. He said he was convicted to get his posterior in gear and get into the gym. Why? Because he wanted to be alive and with his family in ten years.
This is not the primary interpretation of the text, but a timely and poignant application of the text. When we’re young, most of us never give a thought to how the abuse of our body might impact the people we love. Let’s be honest, most of us never worried about body care until our mid-20s.
For me, it wasn’t until I turned 40 that I realized exercising and eating better was not only personally beneficial, but also loving to my family. I woke up one day and realized I was an old dad with young kids, and if I wanted to interact with them and even have a chance of enjoying grandkids someday, I had better get serious about body care.
I would encourage you to do the same. If you eat 100 more calories per day than your body burns, you’ll gain 10 pounds of excess weight in a year. Think about that the next time you eat a year’s worth of calories at The Cheesecake Factory. (This blog post is definitely not sponsored by The Cheesecake Factory!)
Your family loves you. Your family needs you. Your family would love to have you around long-term. You can help make that happen, by God’s grace. If you have not cared for your health well, this post is not intended to make you feel guilty. There’s always time to change your habits. If you have a lot of life in front of you, this post is especially aimed at you. Make changes now so that you are available to serve God and your family as you get older.
Exercising love…a love that stays in shape, is a love that thinks before eating regular lunches of triple bacon cheeseburgers with extra mayo and a side of fries dipped in nacho cheese sauce. You might say, “It’s my body, my lunch, I’ll do what I want.” You keep that up for 20 years and you might either deprive your family of your presence, or burden them with your care in the future. Either way, it’s not loving. Either way, it’s not thinking of Paul’s words in I Thessalonians 4:12 as he says, “and not dependent on anyone.”
Always remember the truth of 1 Corinthians 6:19 that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…You are not your own, for you were bought at a price.” God didn’t purchase you so you could eat as many funnel cakes as you want. He purchased you so you could be available to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”