We hear it so often, it becomes trite: “Honor God with your bodies.” We nod our heads in agreement, meanwhile wondering: What does that even mean?
This verse is found in 2 Corinthians chapter six. Paul wrote two letters to the Corinthians because the church at Corinth was struggling to understand their faith in light of the pagan Greek culture—something many of us can identify with today! The city of Corinth was immersed in sexual worship, with thousands of temple prostitutes filling the city at night. Greek culture celebrated the body in a sensual and pagan manner. As Christians living in this culture, Paul’s Corinthian church had one foot in the world and the other in the church door.
Second Corinthians chapter six confronts this mixing of Christ and immorality. Paul warns the church to “flee immorality” (v. 18) and then explains why this is so important: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (v. 19)
Paul was making a profound point here. In the Old Testament, God’s Spirit did not dwell in earth, but in heaven. When God gave instructions to Moses to build the tabernacle, He carefully outlined a place for His Spirit to dwell: the Ark of the Covenant. This ark would allow God’s presence to dwell with Israel wherever they went. It was an incredible honor, and the ark was made of the most expensive, quality materials by the very best craftsmen of the time. When King Solomon built the Temple centuries later, the Ark of the Covenant rested in the Holy of Holies. It was Israel’s most precious possession.
So when Paul says our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit,” he’s indicating just how valuable our bodies are to God. We have the profound honor, as Christians, to bear the Spirit of God within our very hearts. Because His Spirit dwells in us, we are not our own! This should change both how we view and treat our bodies, and also what we use them for.
So how can we glorify God with our bodies? Here are three ways.
1. Be a Good Steward
Though our culture is obsessed with health and fitness, it’s not always for the right reasons. True health is not about looking good on the outside but treating our bodies with the respect and care they deserve, so they function at optimum performance. What we eat, how much we sleep and how often we exercise all have an effect on our body’s overall function.
God blessed us with bodies to house our souls. In order to do God’s kingdom work, we need our bodies to function. Outside of circumstances we can’t control (such as illnesses and accidents), we should be good stewards of the bodies God has given us, not taking our health for granted. Healthy eating, exercise and the right amount of sleep equip us to accomplish whatever He has called us to do in this stage of life.
2. Remember Your Value
The media tells us that confidence is about how much clothing we’re willing to take off. This is a lie.
Real confidence cannot come from something external. Since real confidence is an inner assurance, a boldness based on objective truth, showing off a great body isn’t confidence at all. That attitude is completely dependent on something that will not last, and a truly confident person needs nothing external to be bold and individual.
Our bodies have value in God’s eyes. In the beginning, men and women were naked and not ashamed about it, because the world was perfect. But when sin entered the world, shame entered with it. God gave a covering to Adam and Eve to deflect the shame. Stylishly covering our bodies is not a lack of confidence; it shows we are giving our bodies the same glory and value that God gives them. Don’t cheapen the beauty God gave you by advertising it for the world to see. Remember your value, remember that you are God’s temple and give His Spirit an honorable house in which to live.
3. Bless Others
Finally, our bodies are meant to bless others. Our hands and feet are tools of the Spirit of God! By honoring our bodies physically and spiritually, we are equipped to bless the people God puts in our path. These things bring Him glory by pointing to His work in our lives.
It doesn’t matter what your body looks like. You are a temple of God, bringing His love and truth into a world that desperately needs it. By living out that truth, we can all point back to our Creator, bringing Him glory for His design.