Perfect Bodies, Perfect Minds

Have you ever been inside a fitness facility or gym that has weights, treadmills, and various contraptions that are designed to transform our puny little bodies into hulking massive machines? Very often you will see posters on the walls that have pictures of men and women with perfectly toned bodies, flawlessly defined muscles, and inspirational messages that say things like, Unlock Your Potential, Don’t Quit, or Push through the Pain.

One time I saw a fitness poster that read, “Your body can do it. It’s time to convince your mind.”

For many people, their minds and bodies are like a husband and wife who are trapped in a horrible marriage. They hate each other. They don’t talk. They ignore each other’s needs. They don’t encourage one another. They are completely focused solely on what they want for themselves without thinking about how to help the other person.

For example, a person’s mind may say to itself, “I sure would like to eat another bowl of that delicious, spicy chili!” In the meantime, the body is yelling, “No way! I can’t even handle the first bowl you shoveled into my stomach! You aren’t even thinking about how your decisions are going to affect me!”

At other times, it is the body who is making selfish choices that negatively affect the mind. The body might say, “I know the alarm went off 30 minutes ago, but can’t we just stay in bed a little longer?” Meanwhile, the mind is growing increasingly frustrated, thinking, “You are always doing this to me! We are going to be late to work–again–and I am already in trouble with my boss!”

How well are your mind and body communicating, and which one of you is in charge? Do you let your mind make all the decisions, like an abusive and controlling husband who never gives any thought to the needs of his wife, or do you have a body that is out of control, never submitting to the wise and nurturing leadership of the mind?

A fruitful life requires loving communion between the mind and the body. Just as a man and a woman cannot make a baby without bringing their bodies together for a single purpose, neither can a person bring forth the fruits of a successful life without bringing his mind and body into unity.

The Biblical story of Abraham and Sarah provides a good example of this. God had promised to give Abraham a child through his own body. Those who know this story well remember that Abraham created a son from “his” body when he slept with his wife’s servant girl, producing a son named Ishmael. However, God told Abraham that this child would not be his promised heir. Instead, God’s promise would be delivered through Sarah’s body.

We might ask ourselves why God wanted to fulfill his promise to Abraham through Sarah and not through her servant. After all, it is still miraculous that Abraham managed to produce a child in any woman when he was 86 years old. The answer to this lies in an earlier passage of Genesis when God creates Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. From that story, we learn that when a man and woman are married, the man and woman become one flesh.

When God promised Abraham that a son would be born from Abraham’s own body, God was promising that the child would be born from Sarah’s womb. According to God’s definition, Sarah is Abraham’s body.

The Apostle Paul writes about this when he is describing the importance of the faith of Abraham in his letter to the Romans. Paul writes that Abraham considered both his own body and the womb of his wife Sarah to have been put to death before God’s promise was fulfilled. Nevertheless, Abraham believed what God had promised, and Isaac was born from Sarah’s womb.

The faith of Abraham and the promise he received from God provides a principle about God’s pattern for bringing life into the world. New birth requires two partners to be joined in a common purpose. God will not create new life in anyone until that person has joined his will to God’s will. God would not fulfill His promise to Abraham until Abraham yielded to God in faith, both in his mind and in his body.

After all, it wasn’t really Abraham who lacked faith that God would fulfill the promise in his body. Instead, it was Sarah who doubted that God would complete His promise to Abraham through her. In fact, she laughed when God said that the child would be born from her womb.

In this story, Abraham represents the mind–the part that believes. However, Sarah represents the body–the part that receives. In order to experience God’s promises, we must believe the promise in our minds and receive the promise in our bodies.

The example of Abraham and Sarah illustrates that it is not enough for the mind to believe–on its own–that something is possible. Rather, the body also must be submitted before the promise is manifested.

In the same way, your mind and body must be yielded to God. Although you may have received a promise from God, you must first learn to fully embrace in your mind what God has promised for you. Then, like a wise and loving husband, you must allow God’s promise to be fulfilled in your body–not through severity toward the body, but by showing compassion to your body.

Likewise, your body must be willing to receive what God has promised. Just as a wife must yield her body to receive seed from her husband that results in new birth, so must we submit our bodies to the will of our minds. God will bring to fulfillment what He has already promised to fulfill–in your body–when you learn to submit entirely to God’s perfect will that He first places in your mind.

Yes, your body can do it! God has promised that He will complete His perfect will in your body. However, your mind must be fully surrendered to God’s will, both for your body and for your mind. As you learn to submit your mind to know the perfect will of God, you will find that God’s promises will be born from your body.

[If you need help surrendering your mind–and your body–to the will of God, click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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