You Are What You Eat.
Each morning I watch the news. I flip back and forth between two stations with two very different mindsets. Even though they target two completely different audiences, the commercials on both stations are the same. Dieting commercials intrude every 7 – 12 minutes with before and after pictures of people who have lost a lot of weight and are now in swim suits. Years ago we used to see, “results are not typical” disclaimers. (In the background, I hear my wife’s blender pulverizing away some green gloppy allegedly healthy drink…)
And that’s not to mention the exercise equipment commercials.
Visit a brick-and-mortar bookstore or search online and you’ll be overwhelmed with the number of titles on how to diet, exercise and balance your lifestyle. It’s no secret: there’s a lot of money in diet books. In recent years “eating clean” became in vogue (Do you ever wonder what the next trend will be?) but already critics are calling overzealous attention to eating healthy a kind of disorder: orthorexia nervosa is a preoccupation of the nutritional makeup of what we eat. Oy.
We all know that eating healthy is good for us and that a poor diet results in poor health. Most of us would do well to cut back on burgers, fried foods, pizza, chips, soft drinks and sugars of all kinds. (Bummer, I agree.) Yet there may be an even more important diet we are missing.
1 Timothy 4:6–7 (HCSB)
6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness 1 Timothy 4:6–7 (HCSB)
Paul tells Timothy you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus. Let’s not miss the obvious. Here is our elder statesman, apostle, churchman Paul writing to the younger Timothy encouraging him in leading the churches they had planted. These short letters are rich in timeless teaching. As applicable then as they are now, we read of a specific way we can know if we are good servants of the Lord. Within 1 Timothy 4 we have several characteristics of a “good minister” or a “good servant.” In sum we might say, Paul has a concern for the spiritual growth of others.
The phrase in v. 6 these things refers to what he has just written in 4:1-5; a warning of false teaching that invades the local churches and the minds of Christians. This could not be more pertinent today. So many trends, isms and ologies have crept into the local church that it can be a full-time job fending off the nonsense.
So a good servant of Christ Jesus is charged with pointing these things out to believers. Notice Paul charges you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed.
With apologies to the apostle, to loosely paraphrase Paul: “Timothy, eat the right diet.”
We think of nourishment as the healthy value of our diets. Technically, the term nourished here means “to be trained” in something and practically, “nourished by it.” So if we think of our ideal diet and exercise routine, we would be “nourishing” our bodies by training them.
Paul’s diet includes the words of faith and the good teaching that you have followed. Some English versions opt for the words of faith and sound doctrine. It is a great picture. Timothy, to be an example, to help stem the false teaching that slinks in, eat a well-balanced diet of faith and doctrine.
The words of faith likely means a general body of literature, i.e., what Paul has entrusted to Timothy about the gospel, the words and works of Jesus Christ and what it means to live faithfully. While scholars differ, 1 Timothy 1:5 seems to summarize this idea
1 Timothy 1:5 (HCSB)
Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
Good teaching or sound doctrine are a complete wholesome diet.
Teaching or doctrine can sound sterile or dry. Like a broiled piece of lean chicken, it is high in protein but dreadfully boring to eat. Yet we must have the “nourishment” of sound doctrine. After all, doctrine is the only antidote to false teaching.
Last, of intrigue is the word nourished likely has the sense of “nourishing yourself.” In other words it’s up to Timothy – and each of us individually – to take this task personally. So, part of the requirements of a spiritual diet is that one must “nourish themselves with the words of faith and sound doctrine.” That’s some diet.
So if we are what we eat, if a good balanced meal is important, then how much more our “spiritual diet”? Are you well nourished? Are you feeding yourself well? Are you spending some time each day, feeding on His word? Are you filling your head and heart with good sustenance? Or do you and I eat theological junk food? Do we hurriedly scan an all too familiar passage? Do we lean on what we ate years ago? Or do we rush out the door of life without any nourishment? Perhaps you are like me; I’ve never been hungry in the morning one day in my life. I know the axiom, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but I’ve never once been hungry in the mornings. Yet we not only need a spiritual hunger for Him and His word, we need the supernatural spiritual nourishment that can only come from time with Him.
The great thing about eating is that we tend to get hungry several times a day. Well, we may not truly be hungry, but we certainly think about food. We love to eat and we like the way we feel with full bellies.
What will it take for you and me to long for the nourishment of God’s word? To want to eat a balanced spiritual diet of His teaching, His good and always nourishing word?
Dig in. And as a bonus, it’s fat free.