For years I have wrestled with my weight and self-control in what I eat. Even when I was not overweight, I failed to excercise self control in the types of food I ate and was not always healthy in my eating habits. Even now, that is true of me. While I am counting calories and working out again, I am not always careful what types of food I eat.
Part of this struggle has been a self image struggle. I struggle because I want to look a certain way, have a certain body form, and feel good about the way I look.. In the past, this has been my biggest motivation for losing weight. This is certainly true after moving to Indiana to serve with the Baptist Children's Home. While there, I had access to a very inexpensive YMCA membership, and being tired of how I looked, I lost 55 pounds, going from 231 to around 185. I kept the weight off for a few years, but never really changed the way I looked at eating and the practice of self control.
Over the years, I have gained most of that weight back and have become convicted that my thinking on the matter of diet and exercise has been selfishly, pridefully, and sinfully motivated. The primary motivation was because I was tired of how I looked; tired of being overweight; and tired of the physical affects that came with that.
In more recent years, I have been convicted that this issue of being overweight is not a physical issue, or an optional issue, but is really a spiritual issue.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindnes, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, SELF-CONTROL [Caps added for emphasis]; against such things there is no law."
You see, self control, in every area of our life, including eating, is matter of being Spirit controlled. To not be controlled by the Spirit is to be controlled by the flesh, with its depraved and sinful nature. A lack of self control is not the mark of the new nature, but the old. Thus, a lack of self control is a mark of one controlled by the sinful nature and does not show the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit.
Consider also the following:
Proverbs 25:28 - "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls"
2 Timothy 1:6-7 - "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit,not of fear but of power and love and self-control"
2 Peter 1:5-6 - "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge and knowledge with self control and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love."
Scripture has much to say about the issue of self control and it all points to the reality that a lack of self control is sin and a mark of the old nature. To have self control is to reveal a love for God that submits ourselves to His complete control over what we eat, where we go, what we think, say, and do. This is specific for me in the context of my eating. If I love God, I will exercise self control in what I eat and how much I eat. If I don't love God, then I will do whatever pleases me and feels good.
Sound harsh? Maybe, but I have learned from the reading of God's word that it is true and have been greatly convicted by it.
I do not yet think these thoughts before every food I consume, but I am learning to see my dieting and exercise (which I am in the process of doing again to lose the extra weight) as a matter of love for God, as a spiritual pursuit more than a physical, selfish, and vain pursuit. This is a struggle, I will not lie, but If I learn to see this as a spiritual matter as an outflow of my love for God, my motives will be better, the outcome will glorify God as I prove to Him he is more important to me than my food, and the affects will be more eternal in nature, lasting longer than if I merely do this for my vanity and pride.
So for me, dieting and exercise is a daily struggle and spiritual journey into learning to allow the Holy Spirit to control and fill me as I empty myself of me and let God fill the void instead.