“You need to present your body. You are a whole person, your body and soul knit carefully together. As we saw in Romans 12, you are to surrender to God all that you are, holding nothing back. Your body belongs to God and is to be used for his purposes. Thus, God calls you to surrender your body to him, to dedicate it to his service, to commit it to his purposes.”
As a young man, I often heard older people talking about their declining bodies and failing health. I grew weary of hearing them tell how their strength had diminished and how their aches and pains had increased. They insisted that they used to be able to eat anything they wanted without ill effect, but now practically every food gave them indigestion. Whereas they once had the ability to sleep soundly under any conditions, now any unusual circumstance would keep them lying awake long into the night.
I was convinced all of this was just idle grumbling. But then I hit my mid-30s and began to notice I wasn’t recovering from activity as quickly as I did before, that I was spending more and more nights staring at the ceiling wishing I was fast asleep. I hit 40 and found that some of my favorite foods didn’t sit well anymore. It was then that I realized I was not going to be the exception. I, too, was going to experience a long decline in my health and a long diminishment in my abilities. I, too, was going to have to increase my efforts in maintaining my health.
Any athlete fine-tunes his body and maintains his fitness through a rigorous training regimen. If he doesn’t, his abilities will decline and the competition will soon leave him far behind. Though you may not be an athlete, you are running the race of life. And as you run, you are dependent upon your body and responsible to care for it. If you are going to run to win, you need to guard your health.
In our last article, we encountered the concept of stewardship as it relates to money. Your money is owned by God and distributed to you as his representative. He calls you to faithfully steward it. As the owner, God has the right to your money, and as the steward, you hold the responsibility for your money. What is true of your finances is true of your body. Your body is also owned by God. In fact, if you are a Christian, your body is twice-owned by God.
God owns your body as its creator. He hand-crafted every bit of your DNA. David celebrates God’s good design in Psalm 139, where he says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (13-14). David’s body was actually God’s possession, carefully designed and deliberately assigned. The same is true for you—God owns your body because he created your body.
God also owns your body as its Savior. You had rebelled against God and sinfully claimed your body as your own. You decided to negate God’s claim over your body and to assert ownership of it yourself. But God drew you back from this treasonous rebellion, and as you accepted his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation, you ceded all your rights and restored proper ownership. In return, God actually took up residence within. So Paul asks, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This is why he can appeal to you and every other Christian “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). To present your body as a living sacrifice is to present everything you have and everything you are to his service, to place it all under his authority.
Your body is not your own. Your body is God’s, to be cared for as he demands, to be committed to his service.