And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” --- And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Mark 7:14-19)
You would think that a generation that is so big on “the heart” and emotions and how worship “makes me feel” would have little trouble understanding that true beauty and goodness have absolutely nothing to do with what you eat. But more and more I see young Christian women obsessed by their diets and exercise programs. Understand, I have nothing against diets and exercise. When the time comes to lose a few pounds I will willingly push away the food as easily as the most conscientious dieter out there. I used to jog 5 miles 6 days a week—until my feet gave out on me, and now my eyes. So I hop on the elliptical machine 4 or 5 times a week for 45 minutes at a whack.
But I will never stand in front of a mirror and tell myself that I am not beautiful today because I ate a doughnut for breakfast, particularly if it’s the first one in 6 weeks. Jesus very plainly tells us in the above passage that we are defiled by sin, not by what we eat.
In fact, when my diet and exercise regimen keep me from practicing hospitality or fellowshipping with my brethren at a potluck, maybe my diet and exercise program have defiled my heart instead, making me ugly before God. I hope that everyone has the sense to know that I am not talking about celiac disease or IBS or deadly peanut allergies. I am talking about fads that mean far more to us than our discipleship seems to, taking up more time researching them than studying the Word, obsessions that make us anxious about the wrong things and keep us from practicing the right ones.
And this is not meant to give you license to become a glutton. It does however give you Biblical authority to graciously receive a meal offered you by another brother and sister who have worked all day to prepare for you the best they have. It allows you to accept gratefully that piece of warm banana bread from the elderly widow you stopped by to see, who went to that trouble because she so seldom has visitors and who will be hurt if you refuse. It permits you to go to lunch with that group of sisters after an hour or two of intense Bible study, to cement your relationships with one another around a shared table. If your regimen does not allow for these things, you need to consider again what Jesus said as well as the many scriptures commanding us to offer hospitality to one another, and the examples of Christians meeting house to house to “break bread” together on an almost daily basis.
Doing these things makes us beautiful in the eyes of God. It has nothing to do with a svelte, sexy figure and everything to do with service, gratitude, and graciousness. Don’t judge yourself ugly because you ate a doughnut today. We are made in the image of God, and when you have your priorities straight, those who are His children will not see you as anything but beautiful.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1Pet 3:3-4