W.W.J.T.?

**Originally published in The Christian Online Magazine, June 2013**

W.W.J.T.

By Rebecca Aarup

W.W.J.D. was all the rage during my teens. Everyone had a wristband, t-shirt, keychain, or coffee mug with the abbreviation of the question, “What would Jesus do?” It was meant to inspire change, to cause us to question our actions and think about what Jesus would say or do in a situation. I suppose it was meant to motivate us towards positive behavior, but I’m not sure it was completely effective in that regard. After all, Proverbs 23:7 reminds us, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.” And Jesus told us, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart (Matthew 15:18).” Gritting our teeth and committing to behavioral change will only get us so far.

According to Science Daily, only 20% of people who lose weight will keep it off. Which means the other 80% will fail. Why is that so? Because we’re asking the wrong question and addressing the wrong issue. We’re attempting to alter our behavior without altering our thinking. We think we need more will power or self-control, and maybe we do need those things, but that is only half of the equation.

We also need to ask the question, “why?” and discover the thinking or beliefs that lead to the behavior we want to change. For many years I struggled with an eating disorder; gaining freedom from such a sickness involved a lot more than taking a medication or “just stopping” the behavior. In order to correct the action, I needed to allow God to correct my heart and mind. Once I began to understand how God viewed me as His child, and what an “identity in Christ” meant, I was able to experience a lasting freedom from the bondage of bulimia. But the healing began in my mind before it could be evident in my behavior.

The same concept applies to any undesirable behavior, whether it’s over-eating, laziness, or procrastination. If we want to see a lasting behavioral change, we must first uncover the lies we believe about ourselves or our circumstances. If we struggle with over-eating or unhealthy eating, for example, we may want to ask what we believe about ourselves. Do we believe our body is God’s temple (1 Corinthians 619)? Do we believe God created us for a purpose, and that being healthy will help us fulfill that purpose (Ephesians 2:10)? Do we believe God cares about us—mind, body, and spirit (Psalm 139; 1 Peter 5:7)? Most of us would answer “yes” to these questions, but if that’s the case, we must also ask ourselves if our behavior reflects what we say we believe. If it does not, then we might have some heart-work to do.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).” Rather than asking, “What would Jesus do,” it’s time to ask, “What would Jesus think?” Instead of focusing on the behavior, we need to focus on the thinking. Right thinking will lead to right behavior.

So, what would Jesus think? He thinks we are valuable (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), we cannot be separated from His love (Romans 8:38-39), we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), we can do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13), he will never give up on us, no matter how many times we fail (Philippians 1:6), and He wants us to come to Him with all our concerns so He can direct our steps in His perfect will (Ephesians 3:12; Proverbs 3:5-6). And of course, He thinks many other wonderful things about us; we need only open His word to discover those precious thoughts as well as choosing to believe those things even when our feelings or circumstances tempt us to believe (and behave) something else.

The essence of being “transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2)” is finding out what Jesus thinks, and asking Him to align our thinking with His—in every area of our lives, even diet and exercise. It’s a prayer we can be certain Jesus is waiting to hear and answer.

© Rebecca Aarup

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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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.)