The time for New Year's resolutions has come and gone, but many of us still have plans to fix this or that. And if you're a woman, there's a good chance making changes to your body is at the top of your to-do list.
How we view our bodies will determine whether our plans to change them are God-honoring or self-elevating. Do we see our bodies the way our Maker does?
With that in mind, here are five lies our culture tells us about how we should perceive our bodies—and five truths from Scripture to help shift our perspective.
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Lie #1: Your body is decorative. It should be used to attract the attention of men and the envy of women. What matters most is how it looks.
Truth: Your body is useful. It should be used to accomplish the good works that God ordained for you to do. What matters most is what it does.
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Lie #2: Your body's appearance is flawed but fixable. You are not the right size, shape, or color. But you can (and should) go to enormous effort and expense to change that.
Truth: Your body's appearance is designed by God. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, according to a plan. Because God is a God of infinite creativity, people come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors.
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Lie #3: Your body is a source of power. It can and should be trained, toned, and preserved from all signs of age. Its level of attractiveness or strength can and should be leveraged to give you dominance over and independence from others.
Truth: Your body has a set of limits. It succumbs to hunger, fatigue, exposure, injury, illness, and age. Its fragility and fleeting vigor should point you toward submission to and dependence on a strong and eternal God.
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Lie #4: Your body is yours. You are its owner. You may neglect it, obsess over it, indulge it, punish it, pamper it, or alter it as you wish.
Truth: Your body is not yours. You are its steward. Because you were bought with a price, all decisions about and behaviors toward your body must be run through a filter: “Does this glorify God in my body?”
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Lie #5: Transforming the outside will fix the inside. By making changes to your body, you can change the condition of your heart. You can have more self-confidence, better self-esteem, and greater happiness.
Truth: Transforming the inside will make peace with the outside. A mind being progressively transformed by the gospel rejects the worship of self and the futile pursuit of happiness. By pursuing holiness, your attitude toward your body will change as you learn to love it as a good gift from God.
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It is true that our bodies bear the effects of the fall. Disability, disfigurement, infertility, chronic illness, terminal illness, and even advanced age make these temporary dwellings difficult to love. People who face challenges like these think of their bodies differently than people who don't. They tend to enjoy a heightened ability to value wellness over attractiveness. They readily understand that a beautiful body simply functions as it should.
Has someone close to you known a great health challenge? Honor their suffering by adopting their perspective, whether you ever share their experience. Trade cultural lies for the truth. May 2014 be a year in which we steward well the gifts of our bodies to bring about the will of God wherever they carry us. May it be a year in which we see our bodies as God sees them, in which we serve him with eager hands, swift feet, and a joyful countenance. What could be more beautiful?