Life must be better-than-average at this moment in time, because at the top of my consciousness is the “problem” of giving up something for Lent. I intend to avoid food products with added sugar.
I love Necco Wafers and cotton candy and chocolate cake and Atomic Fireballs, and pralines, and…well, you get the picture.
Two years ago, I gave up sugar for Lent and did fairly well. My goal was to make a permanent reduction in my sugar consumption, and it worked…for a couple of weeks after Easter. Soon, I was back to my old habits, and I had to face the hard, cold fact that I exert little self-control when it comes to sugary products.
After the morning resolve to eat less sugar, later in the day, I often find myself very “foodhappy” but totally disgusted at my weakness for eating many cookies or something similar and not even realizing it as I eat. This is a terrible habit. Some might call it gluttony!
Plus, clearly, too much sugar consumption exacerbates a long list of medical problems. In true “geek-like” fashion, I even keep a list of them on our fridge to remind me of what I am doing to my body.
Thus, in preparation for Lent, and hopefully always, today I started - once again - to cut back on my sugary food consumption. Success is going to require some serious prayer time and conscious effort to do what is best for my physical self.
I also remembered there was something in the Bible about not doing harm to one’s body, so a little research ensued. What I found may or may not apply to my jumbo box of Raisinettes (big shock), but it is food (!) for thought.
Twenty years or so after Jesus was crucified, Paul wrote letters to the Christian Corinthians in which he answered their questions, examined what about their beliefs was right or wrong, and so forth.
In I Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul tells the Corinthians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit which were bought with a price. Thus, the Corinthians must glorify God with their bodies.
Paul continues about various similar topics until he gets to a discussion of what kind of food is acceptable to eat…almost anything, evidently, as long as it was not meant as part of idol worship…and Paul remarks in I Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV).
That wording stopped me in my tracks. My sugary food habit certainly does NOT reflect the glory of God. It reflects only my greedy desire for instant gratification. Perhaps I need another sign on the refrigerator.
And by the way, if you see me at church, feel free to ask me if I’m still eating for the glory of God.
Written by Becky
I knew I shouldn’t have gone shopping. Spending money I didn’t need to spend, wasting my time, instead of doing something useful. I was leaving the store and was on my way back to my vehicle. That’s when she approached me: a woman who looked disheveled, standing right before me, imploring me with her eyes to take notice of her.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked me.
“Okay…” I answered wearily.
Her appearance kept me on alarm—dirty clothes and yellow teeth. I knew I was in a populated area and safety shouldn’t be an issue, but I always get nervous when I know someone is about to ask me for money. Her story was that she had come all the way into town to pick up somebody and didn’t have enough money for gas to get back to her house. I honestly looked at her in that moment and just wanted to be left alone. I wish I could say I was filled with compassion, but I wasn’t. I assumed her story was made up and that she probably did this to people all the time, or at the very least at least she had a car to drive. Nevertheless, guilt kicked in, and I hurriedly handed her $7 in cash from my wallet. She gratefully took the money, and we left each other’s presence. We knew why we were talking to each other – she needed money, and I needed her to leave me in the least guilty way as possible.
Later that day I thought, What if she went and bought drugs with that money? I could have directly funded her addiction. Did I do the right thing? Should I have engaged her longer in conversation? Should I not have given her money?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. But what I do know is that I did not follow God’s second most important command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
Whoever you are and wherever you may be, we have a commonality: we are God’s children. Let’s keep the gospel simple today. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s it. I said it was simple, not easy. We need to constantly pray for God to give us compassion for all of his children. To truly love God, we must also love his people.
Written by Alexa
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.