by Tad Lindley
When they see me for the first time in a long time, many people will tell me, “You look like you’ve lost weight.” Being sensitive about being skinny, it used to bother me a lot. Then one day it hit me: people are spending billions of dollars a year to look like I do for free! Back in 2005 Americans spent 7 billion dollars at weight loss centers. When you add to that all of the “diet” foods, books, and exercise equipment purchased, it is astounding. If you are endeavoring to lose weight, let me help you save money. When it comes down to it, the only way to lose weight is to eat less than you burn up. That will never change, and it is free advice.
Even skinny guys like me need to worry about obesity. Apparently this is nothing new. The Bible deals with this concept of spiritual obesity in the book of Hebrews. The basic message is lose weight or lose the race. Wherefore seeing that we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
America’s obesity epidemic
We can become spiritually obese when we let sin creep into our lives. In our nation today, we are experiencing an obesity epidemic. Sin is everywhere. Much of the modern music glorifies it. If you haven’t looked at the song titles and lyrics of the music your children listen to, put the newspaper down and do it now. Exposure to Hollywood has lead to a softening of morals and spiritual obesity until it is hard for us to get off the couch and run the race toward heaven.
You wouldn’t run a race with dumbbells
The Bible also warns us to beware of weights. These are things that are not necessarily sin, but may come between us and God. For instance exercise is not sinful, but if I find myself skipping church to play sports then it is coming between me and Jesus. In that case it has become a weight. If a person manages to play their X-box two hours a day, but can only muster up five minutes of prayer they are in failing spiritual health. At that point it is time to get rid of the excess weight.
Fasting: the quickest way to lose weight
Most every diet plan will warn you that fasting is not a good way to lose body fat. That is true. But if we want to cast off spiritual weight and sin in our lives, fasting is the way to go. Is this not the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)
When we are willing to subject our bodies to going without food which we need, it becomes easier to say no to sin and other things that we don’t need. You may have been on Copenhagen for fifty years. With prayer and fasting, God can and will deliver you in a day!
Fast forward, not backwards
There is a teaching out there that we must punish ourselves for past sins. This is not a Biblical teaching. It is God’s privilege to forgive sin. This is not something that we can earn by extra prayer, fasting or giving. Fasting is for the future. It is a way to build up spiritual muscle and burn off spiritual fat so that we can avoid sin in the future. The only way to take care of past sin is through repentance and baptism in Jesus’ name (see Acts 2:37-38).
Keeping the weight off
Sometimes a born again believer stumbles. John wrote to believers that had their sins forgiven in water baptism. He taught them, “If you gain the weight back get rid of it”. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 2:1, 1:9) Remember the Lord wants you to finish the race. As long as you keep the weight off (and he will help you), you can make it.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the Bethel United Pentecostal Church.