And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:25 NKJV
I love Peanut M&M’s, but I never buy them. One handful leads to “just a few more,” and before I know it, I’ve eaten the whole bag. Oh, I can rationalize that “they’re not that bad for me” because the peanuts contain protein. But the nutrition label tells the truth: 10+ grams of fat in a vending-machine-size bag.
Other junk foods, like potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, have a similar effect on me. I always intend to eat only one cookie or just a few chips, but my hand reaches into the container every time I pass it. And that lack of self-discipline means banning those temptations from my house.
When Paul told the Corinthians that “everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things,” he was referring to athletes who avoid unwholesome foods and activities while they train. But “all things” can be broadened into anything that hinders my public testimony to others or my private relationship with Christ.
Some Bible versions translate the word temperate as “self-control” or “strict training.” Paul’s words emphasize that representing Christ and His gospel requires sacrifice. Most of us realize that avoiding harmful activities like immorality and bitterness is necessary, but what about things we view as harmless or even healthful?
Dried fruit or veggie chips aren’t considered unhealthy foods; however, if I consume too many of those foods and neglect protein and vegetables, I’m not maintaining a healthy diet. Similarly, spiritual junk food can include Christian books, charitable works, and inspirational music if I use them as substitutes for studying my Bible or praying.
Just as I must control my physical diet by keeping certain foods out of my house, I may also need to keep certain activities out of my life—not because they’re wrong, but because I can’t control my intake.
Take time this week to inventory your spiritual junk food. What activities or habits keep you from ingesting the spiritual protein of Bible study and prayer?
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Denise K. Loock is a freelance writer and the author of two books: Open Your Hymnal and Open Your Hymnal Again. She is also the founder of Dig Deeper Devotions, a website dedicated to encouraging and enabling Christians to dig deeper into God’s Words.