What’s Love Got To Do With It?

*This article originally appeared in the Christian Online Magazine, September 2013 Issue*

Temple Maintenance: What’s Love Got to do With It?

(The Fruit of the Spirit Diet–Part 2)

I love lasagna, spaghetti, cheese…and just about anything pasta or cheese related. What about you? What’s that one culinary cuisine that tickles your taste-buds? Would you say you eat what you truly love on a daily basis?

But wait a second, first let me clarify what I mean by love. You see, in the Greek language there are two forms of the word “love” used prominently in the New Testament: phileo andagape. If you’ve listened to a sermon or two, chances are you’re at least somewhat familiar with these terms.

Phileo is best described as an affectionate love. It’s what we feel as an emotion. We love our spouses—we are affectionate towards them. We usually love our friends in an affectionate, emotional way as well. While phileo love is more or less from the heart, agape love is from the head. It’s an act of the will, an intellectual love—so to speak. It’s a choice. When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, He uses the word agape not phileo. In fact, agape is the word most frequently used in the New Testament for love. Phileo love is easier because it’s a natural emotion. Agapelove is a much more difficult, because it’s a command Jesus gives us, and it is a type of love we must willfully choose.

For the most part we probably eat the foods we love (phileo). These are the foods we choose when we’re emotionally distressed (come on ladies, you know what I mean), when we’re celebrating, or when we’re craving something satisfying and delectable. I phileo-love lasagna; in fact I don’t have to think twice about eating it. “Me hungry, me eat lasagna now,” I growl in my best cookie-monster voice. But when it comes to taking care of my temple, I have to think a little harder about what I eat. Every day we’re faced with the choice to eat what we love (phileo) or eat out of love (agape).

“Let all that you do be done in love (agape).” 1 Corinthians 16:14

The Greek word for “all” in this verse is…well, ALL! All means everything. From the way we talk about or neighbors behind their backs, to the way we take care of our bodies (temple maintenance), all must be done out of love. This type of love can only be a choice, which means it won’t always be easy. Weagape-love Jesus, therefore we choose to obey His commands because we know He has designed the best plan for our lives—much greater than anything we could have dreamed up for ourselves. In the same way, to take care of our temples is to choose what we eat out of agape–love. We choose to obey God when it comes to gluttony, self-control, and healthy eating not necessarily because we always feel like it (phileo) but because we know it honors God and the temple he entrusted into our care. Being a good steward of our bodies is a testimony of our faith and how we view the sanctity of life.

“If you love (agape) Me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

“But above all these things, put on love (agape).” Colossians 3:14

“Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy.”Romans 12:9

Truthfully, I’d rather eat lasagna every day for lunch, but if I did that (especially with the amount of cheese I use in my recipes) I’d have a serious coronary problem before long. So, rather than eating what I phileo-love every day, I eat out ofagape-love most days, so when I do indulge in the occasional treat, I know that I am not doing my body harm. God certainly wants us to enjoy food; otherwise He wouldn’t have given us taste-buds. But if that lust for food becomes unhealthy, we can easily take a good thing and turn it into a sinful thing.

We take care of our homes, cars, and personal possessions to show that we care about those things and their value. How much more should we show this agape-love to our own bodies? This is a choice that demonstrates not only respect for God’s creation, but agape-love for Him and His word.

What’s love got to do with it? Well, I’d say it’s got everything to do with it! What do you think?

© Rebecca Aarup

(To view other article in the series, “The Fruit of the Spirit Diet,” visit www.RebeccaAarup.com and click on “Temple Maintenance”.)

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Spiritual Reboot: Four Ways Fasting Benefits your Body and Spirit

**Published with The Christian Online Magazine, November 2012**

Spiritual Reboot: Four Ways Fasting Benefits Your Body and Spirit

A lot of controversy surrounds fasting; a quick Google search reveals doctors who wholeheartedly support it and others who are adamantly against it. As Christians, we need to look to Jesus and what His word says when it comes to these issues. In the book of Matthew (4:1-2) Jesus was led by the Spirit to fast, and later He outlines some simple fasting guidelines (6:16-18). So, fasting was not only practiced by Jesus but also taught by Him.

Fasting Benefits Your Physical Body

  • Reboot your “system” with a cleansing fast.

During the first 12-24 hours of a water-only fast, your body begins to break down glucose stored in your liver and muscles, converting it to glycogen to use as energy. After this energy has been depleted, the body begins to use fatty acids for energy. As the fast progresses past two days, the brain uses glycerol (a product of fat tissue) and amino acids from broken down muscle tissue as energy sources.

“Since the bulk of the toxins in your body are stored in your fat reserves, the longer you fast on water only, the more fat you’ll burn and the more toxins you’ll eliminate from your system.” Dr. Ben Kim

Simply stated, fasting for a few days helps the body get a fresh start as harmful chemicals from processed foods and other materials are removed from the body. Some medical studies have even indicated that a fast may help boost the immune system.

  • Put an end to bad eating habits.

Recently I began a ten-day fast and initially I felt freed from the burden of food. I knew, at least for several days, that cooking and wondering about meals would be eliminated from my daily routine. (Don’t worry– I still cooked for my family!)The first day was great—then the second day hit. I would be lying if I said it was easy, because it wasn’t. But what I did come to realize was just how often I was putting food/drinks in my mouth. As the days progressed I eventually felt very little hunger. After the ten days was over, I realized I needed very little—far less than what I had been consuming—to be satisfied and supplied with energy. Now that I’ve come through the fast and am still very much alive and well, I not only feel better physically, but several bad eating habits were effectively broken. (Anybody else have a problem with late-night snacking?) Of course, the spiritual benefits far out-weighed the physical.

Fasting Benefits Your Spiritual Life

  • Obeying the Word of God provides inner peace and contentment.

Those who follow God’s words are blessed, full of joy and peace, and satisfied (Psalm 1; 119; Proverbs 3:1-8). Obeying God through fasting is no exception—it is yet another way we can place our dependence on Christ and get our eyes focused on Him instead of what we think we need. Spiritual eyes are opened during a time of fasting and prayer and when we choose to eat and drink of the Word we are truly blessed in our spirit.

  • Fasting and prayer encourages spiritual awakening and the breaking of sinful habits.

Joel 1:14, 2:12; Nehemiah 1:4, 9:1-3; Ezra 8:23; Acts 14:23; Esther 4:3; Deuteronomy 9:9; 2 Chronicles 1:3; Daniel 9:3–all of these Scriptures reference fasting by God’s people for repentance, direction, instruction, or intervention. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of examples of fasting believers. I hope you’ll take the time to browse the passages listed and see how many ways God chooses to work through fasting.

With only a few days remaining until a critical presidential election, perhaps now is the time to consider fasting for personal and national revival as well as godly leadership in our nation. Or maybe you are struggling with a sinful habit. In any case, seek God first and follow His voice—He is the only one really qualified to lead you in this area.

As always, consult your doctor to make sure it is physically safe for you to fast (but do be prepared to meet mixed opinions from medical professionals on this topic).

Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

**Published in The Christian Online Magazine June issue**

Column: Temple Maintenance by Rebecca Aarup

Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

Anyone who has had any experience with lawn maintenance or gardening knows how obnoxious ugly weeds can be. One way or another they have to be dealt with; weed poison or elbow grease. The same is true for believers. We want to be changed instantly; read a verse and do what it says without effort. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; there is work required. God has made us His gardens of fruit bearing, yet we sometimes lose our crops to weeds. Here are some ways you can recognize a weed problem in your own garden.

Weed #1: It’s my body so I can eat however much I want, whenever I want.

The Bible is emphatic on how we should view this lie. Paul tells us, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Once you recognize your need to self-gratify is directly contradicted to the word of God you can repent of your belief and begin to live as one who knows their worth in God’s eyes.

Weed #2: God doesn’t care about what I eat.

Get ready to grab your weed poison and spray it: “Do not join those…who gorge themselves on meat, for… gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rage.” (Prov. 23:20-21) I’m fairly certain that God does care about what we eat, and how much, otherwise he wouldn’t have chosen to warn us about the consequences. Our loving Father does not wish that we would suffer out of our own ignorance, so He gives us helpful guidelines in His word.

Weed #3: Food makes me happy/Food is a pleasurable reward.

Get your shovel because Jesus tells us all about how to be satisfied and it has nothing to do with food. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)

If our joy is coming from the Fountain of Living Water, why do we need a counterfeit as silly as food? When we recognize our value as God’s beloved children, we have perfect peace that sets us free to eat in moderation and not use rewards as an excuse to over-indulge.

Weed #4: I’ll start a diet when I have more time, I’m just too busy. (Procrastination)

Our friend James has some words about that. “Now listen you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city’…Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (Jms. 4:13-14, 17) When we know what to do and still refuse to do it we chose to ignore (grieve) the Holy Spirit.

Weed #5: The only way I can be healthy is to eliminate certain foods and buy health food that I can’t afford.*

“Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)

Whether or not you feel convicted to avoid certain foods is between you and God. Let the Holy Spirit do His job and refuse to do it for Him. If you have experienced positive results from giving up something, by all means share it in a loving manner, but never assume it’s God’s will for
everyone.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment over your food choices. Common sense will usually reveal what is “beneficial” for our God given temples, and what we should do without.

Be assured you can eradicate weeds and grow healthy crops of self-control once again. Confess to the Lord your short-comings and receive His forgiveness. Obedience will clear your conscience before God and allow you to experience freedom from the guilt over-indulgence can bring. You’ll also be freed from diets once and for all!

*This is not meant to include people with food allergies or medical issues that require them to abstain from certain foods. Eating foods out of medical necessity is an entirely different issue this article does not intend to address.

(For an in-depth study of Biblical weight loss, see Thin Within: A Grace Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss by Judy Halliday, R.N. and Arthur Halliday, M.D.)