Are Christians Obligated to Eat Healthy?

Published: Mar 12, 2023
Are Christians Obligated to Eat Healthy?

Reciprocity is a spiritual law. We don’t get something for nothing.

With my mouth slightly agape, I watched her walk the lush rows of her verdant garden. The tomatoes looked succulent. The kale was robust. But that day the star of the show was a massive cabbage. I had never seen a cabbage so big and beautiful in all my life.

I was truly in awe as I watched that video of Oprah in her garden. It led me to imagine what the Garden of Eden must have been like. Row after row of God’s bounty. God speaking over Adam and Eve blessing them, then with outstretched arms declaring, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Genesis 1:29). 

In the beginning God created the perfect environment in which we would thrive. But such is the nature of mankind, we fall. And we are now in an era where we want maximum results with minimal effort. We want healthy bodies but are not fully committed to eating right and exercising. We want longevity but aren’t dedicated to honoring rhythms of rest and productivity. Basically, we want something for nothing. 

Reciprocity is a spiritual law. We don’t get something for nothing. The Bible is very clear in this: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7). We also see this in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Jesus tells us we obtain mercy when we are merciful to others (Matthew 5:7), and He also admonishes us to forgive so we will be forgiven (Matthew 6:14). In the same manner, if we want to obtain the promise of being in health and prospering even as our souls prosper (3 John 1:2), we should proactively engage in behaviors that support good health.

If we are going to be effective working, caring for our families, serving in ministry, and living out our calling, we must be equipped to run this race with endurance. And running this race takes stamina. To do this with zeal, enthusiasm, and vigor will be a challenge if we are exhausted and in poor health. Eating healthy is one tool in our arsenal that we can use to support having the vitality we need to run this race.

Your Body Is Special

Your body is special to God. In fact, God tells you it’s not even yours. Your body is a dwelling place for His Spirit and should be treated as such. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Since your body is where the Spirit of God resides, it should be handled with care. And we can honor the body by what we put in it. 

Christ intended for you to live fully! In John 10:10, He tells us that He came that we might have life and have it to the full. When He gave His life at Calvary, He bore every infirmity there on the cross. He exchanged His life for ours. That’s the ultimate act of reciprocity. How can we respond to such a sacrificial act? We can reciprocate by eating foods which support life, health, and strength, and that comes by eating a healthy diet.

What Is Healthy Eating? 

So what does healthy eating even look like? The healthiest or best diet is a topic widely contested. Suffice it to say that in the beginning God looked at everything He made and said it was good. So when deciding what constitutes “healthy,” a baseline question to ask is “Did God make it?” You can also ask yourself, “Was this food here in the beginning?” 

From Genesis to Revelation, we gain insight on what foods promote health and healing. In addition to the earlier mentioned Genesis 1:29, in Ezekiel 47, we find a beautiful vision of the Temple. At this temple was a river teeming with life. The Bible says this, “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12). Similarly, we also see this description in Revelation 22:2, “Through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

I hear someone saying, “Legalistic dietary restrictions are a thing of the past as we are no longer bound to these restrictive laws.” And perhaps you’re even thinking about the vision Peter had in Acts 10 about clean and unclean foods. Or still, you may be thinking about Romans 14:17, which talks about the Kingdom of God not being about eating and drinking—and you’d be right.

We don’t want to get caught up in detailing what to eat and not eat. Anything that exalts itself above God is idol worship, healthy eating included. We have the freedom to choose what we eat. The Apostle Paul admonishes us in Galatians to not use our freedom of choice to indulge the flesh but to rather serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Additionally, just because we can do something, in this case eating unhealthy, doesn’t mean we should. Not everything that is permissible is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). 

The Gift of Temperance

As followers of Christ who have the Holy Spirit residing in us, we have temperance which enables us to exercise restraint when it comes to food choices. With that divine enablement from the Holy Spirit we are empowered to choose well. The decision to choose well has implications not just for us but for our families too. Deuteronomy 30:19 reminds us to choose life so that our descendants might live. 

Eating a healthy diet is not an attempt to make us holier. It is not a badge of honor nor a point to gloat over. But eating healthy can be an expression of our gratitude for the fearfully wonderfully made bodies we’ve been given. Eating healthy can be our demonstration that we agree with heaven’s plan for life more abundantly. Our diets can reflect our commitment to properly steward the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

Are Christians obligated to eat healthy? Each person must draw his or her own conclusion. But be reminded of the Kingdom principle mentioned earlier, whatever a man sows that too he shall reap. Thank God that every good and perfect gift is from Him, including the gift of good health.

Lettuce pray (pun intended)…

God, I thank you for my fearfully and wonderfully made body. Thank you for the good of the earth: the plants bearing seed and the fruit bearing seed that you’ve provided for my nourishment. Lord, thank you for the nuts, the grains, the birds that fly, the animals that graze, and the fish that swim. May my lifestyle choices, including my diet, bring you glory and honor. May I continue to be in health and prosper even as my soul prospers. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/SARINYAPINNGAM

Tyra Lane-Kingsland is a speaker, Women’s Ministry Director and author of the book Purposeful Parenting. She enjoys facilitating the classes she’s developed on parenting and Health & Wellness. It is her assertion that health is wealth and believes that optimal health is achieved through proper nourishment, rest and exercise. Tyra is an attentive wife and mother of six. Knowing that God causes all things to work together for good, she is on a passionate pursuit to see women inspired to live fully!