You Are What You Eat
You Are What You Eat
by Stephanie Miller
I grew up with a mother who always made us eat healthy foods. While other kids were eating Dunkaroos and Lunchables, I had carrots with peanut butter and a chicken leg from last night’s dinner. I can recall countless meals at home where I was forced to sit at the table until I ate all of my vegetables. I used to spread my peas across my plate to make it look like I’d eaten more than I had. But to my dismay, right as I thought I was about to be excused from the dinner table, my dad would just pick up my fork and scrape all of the peas into a pile right in the middle of my plate.
I’ll never forget the feeling of defeat. But the principle behind those painful, pea- filled nightmares holds true: your diet affects your health! You cannot live a long healthy life on a diet of junk food, just as you cannot live a healthy spiritual life by simply feeding your flesh. What we eat, both physically and spiritually, leads to either life or death. If you attended the 2019 North American Youth Congress, you likely heard Mark Brown’s message entitled, “There Is A Lad Here.” In that message he challenged an arena full of Apostolics when he declared “our problem is not attention, our problem is appetite… What are we hungry for?” Hyphens, that is the question. What are we hungry for? In case you haven’t heard, you are what you eat.
In 2004, Michael S Donaldson wrote an article in which he explored the link between what we eat and cancer cells in the human body. In his review, he found that “30- 40% of all cancers can be prevented by appropriate diets, physical activity, and maintenance of appropriate body weight.” This statistic quickly took on a deeper meaning as I remembered Mark Brown’s words. If 30- 40% of all cancers that develop in the human body can be prevented through diet, exercise, and managing your weight then why do we think we can eat or do whatever we want and be unaffected physically?
Hyphens, don’t be deceived: the same is true in the spiritual. “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:8, NLT) Plainly stated: your diet affects your spirit. Without even realizing it, we can take on the characteristics of what we entertain. And just like a bad breakout after a greasy burger, it will certainly show. What you feed your mind, you also feed your spirit. If you are entertaining the presence of God, you will become more like Him. But if you’re feeding on things that promote and celebrate carnality, you will become carnal.
During a conversation recently, my dad quoted Reverend F. Scott Teets. He said, “Spirits make men.” Meaning that the spirit you entertain is what influences who you become, and you will take on its characteristics- good or bad. What we allow to enter and remain in our environment, our minds, and our hearts will manifest spiritually. (Proverbs 4:23) If we aren’t building our spiritual diet on the Word of God, we will starve our spirit of what it truly needs and we will not have strength to fight the poisons of the enemy.
To this day, if my mother hears that I feel sick she immediately asks, “What did you eat today?” I used to hate this question because I’d have to admit that when I said I ate breakfast, what I actually meant was I had 3 donuts that clearly aren’t helping me. But I’ve personally learned the significance of watching what I eat, physically and spiritually. I don’t point the finger when I say that we cannot allow junk into our spirit and be surprised when we feel the negative consequences spiritually.
I have lived this. I have felt the negative effects of allowing garbage into my mind and heart after spending too much time on social media, or watching Netflix, or spending too much time in the wrong places with the wrong people. Sometimes the issue is not spending enough time in the right places with the right people. Let’s not kid ourselves: it does affect us spiritually. We become dry, unmotivated and dispassionate, and burnt out. Hyphens, our relationship with God must be paramount to everything. We can’t live a Monday- through- Friday, 9-5 carnal life and serve God on the weekends.
So often we treat spiritual disciplines like antibiotics, as if praying and reading the Bible will kill all of the bad things we consistently eat that make us spiritually sick. But we are commissioned to keep our temples clean. “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT)
The hidden danger in entertaining carnality as a Christian is that it becomes increasingly difficult to hear the voice of God. Just as scientists have linked diet to cancer, they’ve also observed a link between diet and hearing loss. Current research is suggesting that the healthier your diet, the lower your risk for developing hearing loss. The spiritual link is that if you keep eating junk, you’re more likely to suffer from spiritual hearing loss and miss the voice of God. It is all about whose voice you’re listening to, and whose hand you are eating from. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Jesus died to set us free.
We cannot afford to isolate ourselves from His voice or His presence! It’s easy to be consecrated in a football stadium with 40,000 other young people worshipping God but consecration begins at home. Consecration is unpopular for a reason; it opposes our flesh, and our flesh will always crave what isn’t good for us. But are we really okay with settling for a lesser level of authority and intimacy with God? He might bless us or use us, but He will not confide in us. God confides in those who are called out and separated, like Abraham. (Genesis 18:17)
Look at the reward for those who endeavor to go beyond just what is necessary to be in right standing with God! “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:4-5) We cannot live this truth halfway. God will not accept a lukewarm sacrifice. (Revelation 3:16)
Regardless of age or stage of life, it is necessary to develop spiritual disciplines now. Basic spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, and fasting are crucial for Christians because they increase our appetite for the presence of God. They make us sensitive to His spirit and we become more like Him. Hyphens, let’s stop for a minute and take personal inventory. Ask yourself: what have I been eating lately? Am I making time to read God’s word and spend quality time in His presence alone? Have I talked about God or done something for Him lately? Am I spending time with His people? Or have I spent more time lately feeding my flesh?
Brace yourself for this hard truth: feeding your flesh is a spiritual act, too. Binge watching R rated shows on Netflix is just as spiritual as reading your Bible; but while one strengthens your spirit, the other poisons it. We are deluded when we think we are strong- or spiritually mature- enough to handle drinking poison. The good news is that the more we eat what’s good for us, the more we will crave those good things. Our spirits will be strengthened and our value for the spiritual health we gain will be greater than the fear of missing out we once held.
God is our source of strength and nourishment. We cannot microwave a relationship with Him and expect it to nourish us like a home- cooked meal. That’s the equivalent of fast- food faith, eaten out of convenience when our spiritual tanks hit empty. It is endlessly frustrating to try and fit God into your life, as if He were simply a dietary supplement you can take to keep you from getting sick after you’ve eaten what you want. It will leave us spiritually malnourished and having a form of godliness without any power. (2 Timothy 3:5) But let’s make sure our diet is based on the good word of God, that will nourish our souls and help us grow to be mature Christians who are pleasing to God.
- Donaldson, M. S. (2004). Nutrition and cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. Nutrition Journal, 3(1). doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-3-19
- The Holy Bible (New Living Translation)
( Donaldson, 2004)