Glorify God in Your Body (Ephesians 5:29, 30)
Topic: Ephesians Passage: Ephesians 5:29–5:30
Glorify God in Your Body
Ephesians 5:29, 30
October 20th, 2013
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
I. Turn Aside
As we come to the Scriptures this morning, let me remind you of a very similar situation that took place over 3000 years ago...He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.  And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight...” (Exodus 3:2b-3a)
This morning, God has given us a burning bush. Like that bush, God wants to speak to us from the midst of the Scriptures. Are you ready to listen? Let's turn aside and see the “great sight” that God himself has for us.
II. The Passage: “But Nourishes and Cherishes It” (5:29, 30)
Let's look together at Ephesians 5, verses 29 and 30. This is what the Apostle Paul writes to the disciples of Jesus who lived in the city of Ephesus...
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:29-30)
Now, a quick glance at the passage in which these two verses are situated reveals that the main topic here is the topic of marriage. As Paul makes clear in verse 25, husbands should love their own wives in the same way that Jesus loved the church by dying for her on the cross.
But as he continues to speak to these husbands, he adds another argument. If a husband and wife are truly “one flesh”, as the Bible says numerous times, then, verse 28, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
But then the argument comes back around. If husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves, and if we are bound to Jesus as his bride, then Christ loves us as His own body. Therefore, again, husbands are to love their own wives as Christ loves the church.
But notice the assumption underneath these encouragements. The assumption is “no one ever hated his own flesh”. The assumption is, everyone “nourishes and cherishes [his own flesh]”. And this assumption stands underneath the entire Bible. God has created each of us with a built-in, a hard-wired commitment to our own self-interest. It's the very thing God appeals to when He invites us to choose life; when He calls us to turn and be saved.
But as we see here, the 'self love' Paul uses as the basis of his argument is a care and concern for our own bodies. But what does it mean to “nourish and cherish” one's own body? Well, Paul only uses each of these Greek words one other time in his letter. He actually uses the word for “nourish” in the very next chapter. Look at Ephesians 6, verse 4...
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up [“nourish” them, or we might say, “nurture” them] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Paul also uses the word “cherish” one other time. Listen to I Thessalonians 2:7...
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of [cherishing] her own children. (I Thessalonians 2:7)
So interestingly, both words can also be used in the context of raising, of caring for children. But in Ephesians 5, that same nurture and care is, universally, directed toward our bodies. So how do we see this kind of nourishing and cherishing expressed in Scripture? Well, if we stick with Paul, he gives us a couple examples of this in his first letter to Timothy. In contrast to those who are driven by the love of money, Paul says in I Timothy 6:8...
But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (I Timothy 6:8)
Paul understands the basic needs of life. To take care of our own bodies is to make sure our bodies have food to fuel us and clothing to protect us. But only ten verses earlier, in I Timothy 5:23, Paul gives this advice to his younger associate...
No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (I Timothy 5:23)
So Paul is encouraging Timothy to “nourish” and “cherish” his body by giving attention to his “frequent ailments”. Paul is giving Timothy some basic medical advice. And throughout the Bible we see these same basic expressions of the fact that “no one ever hated his own flesh”. In almost every book of the Bible there are references to men and women, boys and girls, seeking food, drink, clothing, shelter, and/or healing or physical safety.
III. The Body: Stewardship and Sin
Think about what we've seen for a minute. God created you and me with an inner drive to love ourselves by nourishing and cherishing our own bodies. This is a fundamental part of what it means to be human. If we were not given this basic drive, no one would survive (even if they were cared for by someone else, because if the care-giver didn't care for themselves they wouldn't be able to give care to someone else for very long).
But here's another couple of verses that I believe speak to a similar issue. Paul writes this in I Corinthians 6:19, 20...
Or 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.
Now the context here has to do with sexual immorality, but I believe this passage, and our verses from Ephesians, both of these passages talk about the importance of the physical in light of the spiritual; of the material, in light of the immaterial. But the end of verse 19 (of I Corinthians 6), along with verse 20, points us to the critical idea of stewardship.
Stewardship, or Christian stewardship is the idea that every follower of Christ has been entrusted with God's blessings in order to be a blessing. Stewardship is the faithful management of God's gifts. In most cases, we talk about stewardship with familiar terms like time, talents, and treasure. But think about this: you may have $1000; you may have 365 days in a year, 168 hours in a week, and 24 hours in a day; you may have several things you are good at, several skills; but you only have ONE body.
You are not your own. If Christ is your only hope, then all of you, body, soul, and spirit, all of it belongs to God. So what are you? You are a steward of your body. As Paul writes in the closing words of I Corinthians 6, “So glorify God in your body”.
But when it comes to stewardship, we know that all of the areas in which are called to be faithful managers of God's property, all of those areas can be tainted by sin. Laziness tempts us to be unfaithful with our time. Pride tempts us to be unfaithful with our talents. Greed tempts us to be unfaithful with our money. But what about our bodies? How does the curse, how does our rebellion against God, how does our me-centeredness affect that basic drive to “nourish” and “cherish” our bodies?
IV. How are You Most Tempted?
Let me suggest that there are three general categories that describe how sin taints the 'self-love', the body-nourishing, the body-cherishing drive that God has hard-wired into you/me.
First of all, some of us are tempted to over-nourish and over-cherish our bodies.
What do I mean by that? I mean that some of us make the improvement, the maintenance, the beautification of our bodies the most important thing in our lives. We live to exercise. We spend inordinate amounts of time in front of the mirror. We spend inordinate amounts of money on this or that to look a certain way. Physical fitness and/or fashion becomes our god.
And behind this over-nourishing and over-cherishing mindset, sin is at work. We are motivated by an unhealthy desire to be accepted or honored by others. Or maybe we are attempting to use exercise or eye-liner as a weapon again getting old, ultimately, in order to somehow avoid death.
But God speaks to both of these misguided ideas:
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;  for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (I Timothy 4:7-8)
In both of those verses, God's corrective is the priority of the spiritual, the priority of the eternal. While we can and must care for our bodies, we can never allow our bodies to replace Jesus as the focus of our passion and praise. We should never allow ourselves to trust in or put our hope in physical beauty or physical power. But on the other side...
Second (number two), some of us are tempted to un-nourish and un-cherish our bodies.
What exactly do I mean by those terms? Well, for some people, nourishing and cherishing our bodies is simply UN-important. It is, in the end, UN-necessary. You see, while there are some who wrongly neglect or minimize the spiritual in light of the physical, there are others who wrongly neglect or minimize the physical in light of the spiritual. This group believes that it ultimately doesn't matter what you do with your body, as long as your spirit is being nourished and cherished; as long as you are going to church, and reading your Bible, and tithing, and sharing your faith.
Men and women who have this mindset might give thought to their devotional time, but not to their diet. They may be interested in preaching, but not preventative health. Their body could be riddled with cancer because of years of smoking, their body could be failing because of the effects of obesity, their body could be suffering because they are not interested in seeing a doctor, in conversations about their mortality, and so they minimize the warning signs.
But like those who over-nourish, and over-cherish, sin is also at work in this mindset. For many food is simply an escape. It numbs the pain. It relieves the stress. Eating becomes a form of worship. Others turn to smoking or drinking to feel better. OR sometimes we turn to movies, television, gaming, the internet, or other sedentary pursuits, to other distractions that keep us sitting and not moving. And so our bodies suffer because we are inert, not simply because our job keeps us in a cubicle all day, but because we choose to be inert.
What some of us often miss is the fact that our bodies and spirits are interconnected. It isn't that sin has so hopelessly ruined our bodies that all we can do now is focus on the spiritual. No, God made us embodied spirits. And we will not live as spirits in heaven for eternity. No, the body is so essential to who we are that God will one day resurrect the body. There is a connection between the physical and spiritual parts of you. They affect one other. Listen to how Solomon expresses this, beginning with a well-known verse...
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)
As a general rule, obedience to God, living a life of faith, will benefit your body as well as your spirit. Why? Because it helps us avoid these 'un-nourishing' and 'un-cherishing' mindsets and patterns of behavior. Yes, you will still get sick. Yes, you will still die. But our spiritual priorities are meant to safeguard us and inspire us in terms of this stewardship of our bodies.
Conversely, when we don't take care of our bodies as we should, it can affect our spirit. When we feel physically drained, when our heath is impacted by the choices we've made, or should have made, it can tempt us to complain, to despair, to slothfulness and carelessness. I think all of us know that how feel physically can affect how we feel spiritually.
But let me be clear. I'm not talking about physical issues that are outside of your control. I'm talking about the bodily stewardship choices you and I can make. Wonderfully, God can also use the things outside of our control to grow our faith, as hard as that it is sometimes. You see, if we are walking by faith, we cannot be UN-concerned about our bodies.
Finally, third, some of us are tempted to mal-nourish and mis-cherish our bodies.
Let me explain what I mean. There are some who do not simply neglect there bodies, but deliberately harm their bodies. They MIS-treat their bodies. Some burn or cut or pick at themselves. Some use drugs or alcohol to injure themselves. Some take foolish risks with their physical well-being. The Bible actually describes one kind of self-injury in a number of different passages. Here’s a couple of those:
You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:28)…AND…And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. (I Kings 18:28)
This cutting and gashing was connected to the worship of false gods. I’m not highlighting these verses this morning because I believe people who hurt themselves today are doing so for the sake of some false deity. I want you to see this verses because we need to understand that harming ourselves is not part of God’s desire for us. It is contrary to His purposes, his design for us is to nourish and cherish our bodies.
Again sin is at work to taint our minds. Why do people hurt their bodies? For a lot of different reasons: they are punishing themselves; or they want to distract themselves from painful feelings, or they feel numb inside and the physical pain helps them feel something, or they hate their bodies in the sense that they hate what is said by others about their bodies (you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re not desireable), or they hate their bodies because of something horrible that was done to their bodies.
Whatever the reason, this kind of self-injury not only reminds us of the connection between our spirit and our body, but also it points us back to our desperate need for God’s word, His grace, and His Spirit to help us in this stewardship of the body.
V. How Now Shall I Live?
Let’s think about what we’ve seen this morning. God has put a drive inside of us to care for our own bodies. But this healthy self-love is twisted by sin into self-centered love. We either make our bodies into an idol, or we are indifferent to our bodies, or we mistreat our bodies in order to feel better about our pain-filled heart.
So what I am encouraging you to do? What does God want you to do? Am I encouraging you to go out and get a gym membership or the latest and greatest piece of fitness equipment for your home? Am I encouraging you to become a Vegan or never touch sugar again? Am I encouraging to get a check-up every month or to spend thousands of dollars on body scans and bloodwork? Not exactly.
God simply wants you to take care of your body, not because Dr. Oz says so, not because you want to look like a celebrity, not because you want a better insurance rate, not because you don’t like yourself, not because you feel guilty, not because of fear…but because you love Jesus Christ; because you are thankful for the gift of your body; because you want to be a faithful steward of the amazing treasure He has entrusted to you.
Why do we struggle with these things? Because of sin. But Christ is the hope, not only for our souls, but also for our bodies. He reorients and heals us on the inside, so that the outside can be healthy as well. Will you still get sick? Yeah. Will there be times when you are struggling physically? Yes. We will all struggle in these things, in different ways at different times. My encouragement is to look back to Jesus. Remember the word. Remember His grace. And take care of the body God has given you.