"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NIV)
It was an odd conversation, I must admit.
As I was driving my sixteen year-old daughter to church, she expressed she was hungry. Pulling up to the drive through window, she ordered a Double Baconator Combo - you know, the hamburger with two thick patties, six strips of bacon, cheese and toppings, plus a large fry and drink.
I gently warned her that unhealthy eating habits would eventually catch up to her. Then the conversation took an interesting twist.
I had recently been studying the book of Leviticus, which focuses on the building of God's temple by the Israelites after they had left Egypt, and apparently I had "temple on the brain" syndrome.
I explained to my daughter that she needed to remember that her body was God's temple; therefore, she should take care of it, and part of taking care of our bodies, is eating healthy. She replied by saying (with her teenage facial expression of utter confusion), "Are you trying to tell me that eating this hamburger is a sin?!"
This comical conversation went on for several minutes while I attempted to convince her of the importance of treating her body as God's temple, and she held her ground that eating a hamburger was not a sin.
You see, after reading countless details about the tabernacle (the tent-version of the temple), I had a newfound appreciation for its sacredness. I felt encouraged knowing that the Lord actually resided in the Temple. I admired the hours of work devoted to building the Tabernacle, and the many rules and requirements that God set forth regarding honoring and caring for it.
In the New Testament, we are reminded many times about how we are now God's dwelling place. We no longer have to worship, pray or converse with God in a specific place, because He lives within us.
At first glance, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 implies an overwhelming responsibility to understand that we truly are God's temple, that we are the only ones who can take care of it, and that He has commanded us to do so. But thank goodness, caring for a temple is not nearly as hard as it was for the Israelites. Let's look at how we can care for God's temple today:
- The original temple had walls made of cloth. Their purpose was to protect the holy contents that were inside. In the same way, we also have to protect the contents of our temple, which is the Holy Spirit living within us.
- A lot of cleaning took place in the temple continually. We can keep our temples clean through purity of heart and mind.
- The temple was built for worshipping. God calls us into worship every day, inviting us to spend time with Him and in His Word.
- The Lord spoke in the temple and His voice was heard. The Lord is still speaking to us, in our hearts, and being able to hear His voice requires an intimate relationship with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:20b, says we are to honor God with our body. Does that mean never eating another hamburger or doughnut? Of course not! God does not command us to have perfectly sleek figures, or infallible eating habits. Nor is He is concerned with what we wear, what color our hair is, or how many wrinkles we have.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, "But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'"
God cares about our hearts, His Temple. We are called to care for His Temple daily, through healthy eating, yes, but most importantly through purity of heart, mind and soul.
Dear Lord, prompt me to never forget that I am Your temple, Your holy dwelling place. Help me to honor You in all that I do. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Consider any changes you could make in your life to better care for God's temple.
Do I treat my body as the residence of God?
Am I committed to living a life of purity of heart and mind?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (NIV)