Stewards of the Body
1: Have you ever thought of your body as not belonging to you? Maybe this is a new thought to you. None of us own very much in this world, but certainly my body is my own, you say. Let us look at this idea a little closer for a few minutes. It will help us in our attitude regarding the importance of Better Living.
2: We accept God as the Creator of this earth, including all that is in it. Since God created all matter, or "things." this also includes our bodies. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the Breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7. That is right. We do not have a soul, we are a soul! It is the breath of God Himself which gives this thing we know as life to our physical bodies. The breath of God is the difference between a living person and a corpse.
3: We have already learned that man is made up of four dimensions: Physical, mental, social and spiritual. Each is important to God our Creator. So many pagan religions have taught that the body was the only thing of importance in the earth. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," has been the prevailing sentiment in ages past. Self-gratification, selfish-lustful desires were the way of life. Human-life was cheap.
4: At this dark point in the history of our earth, Christianity teaches something wonderful. The Christian concept is that the human body is fearfully and wonderfully made, and that it is sacred. Physical habits took on a new importance under the teaching of Paul when he said, "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20. So this is the first reason for considering good health as a religious matter.
5: But there is a second reason equally as important. It is simply this: Our character is affected by the state of our health. Paul referred to this when he wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:1, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." In other words, holiness can be attained best if we refuse to be the slave of unhealthful habits.
6: Medical Science tells us that the condition of our bodies affects our personality, mental outlook, and our spiritual life. If you are eating a diet deficient in vitamin B, you are probably irritable, impatient, and nervous, if you have indigestion or too much acid in your stomach, you may have an acid tongue! At least you do not feel like worshipping God. We have also seen that our thoughts affect our body and our spiritual interest. If we have selfish thoughts, guilt-feelings, fear, anger and mistrust, we have very little desire to improve ourselves or serve God.
7: Since the mind and the soul find expression through the body, both mental and spiritual vigor are in a great degree dependent upon physical strength and activity. What ever promotes physical health, also promotes the development of a strong mind and a well-balanced character. Without health, no one can completely fulfill his obligations to himself, to his fellow-beings, or to His Creator. Therefore, we are stewards of our bodies that belong to God. We are responsible to Him for their care.
8: We are also responsible to our families and our children for teaching them how to care for their bodies. How much is a child worth? If your child grows into manhood being carefully taught to obey the laws of good health; if he is taught to resist the social pressure of drinking and smoking, etc., because they conflict with physical law; if he is taught to walk in obedience to mental and spiritual law, he will possess physical strength and mental vigor capable of fulfilling the purpose of God for his existence.
9: Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. They are under our stewardship. There is a very important and special reason for Better Living, when we realize this. The results of faithful stewardship are a clear mind, health, and vitality for the laws of health were made by the One who created us and has only our happiness in mind. What a wonderful Owner we have! And "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth of every mine!"
10: He owns the rivers and the rocks and hills, the sun and stars that shine . . " Actually, this world is "twice His!" He made it, and sustains it, and then Christ redeemed it from Satan by His death on Calvary. We have a great responsibility as His stewards. How can we be faithful stewards in material things as well as physical things? There is as great a blessing for us in this as in being faithful stewards of our bodies!
11: To remind men of his ownership God reserved a tree in the garden of Eden for Himself and said to Adam and Eve, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." Genesis 3:3. As long as Adam and Eve did not eat of this tree they acknowledged God as the Owner of everything. There would be no Atheist today, if every one regarded God as the only Owner of everything. All would be true worshippers of the Living God, who is the Creator of all.
12: Sad to say the first parents did not pass the test. And hence, the world has deteriorated so much and there is corruption, sickness and death everywhere. This all started because man did not acknowledge God as the owner.
13: The same danger is facing us if we do not acknowledge His ownership. For us and for our age God has a similar plan so that we can still regard Him as the Creator of everything. He has reserved something to be for us a constant reminder of His ownership.
14: We read in the Bible: "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy unto the Lord." "And concerning the tithe of the herd or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. Leviticus 27:30, 32.
15: Some things can be counted, other things can be weighed, while others can be measured. In any way we do it, the first one is the Lord's. Some have a habit of counting God, one, two, three etc. We should return the first one to God. There is a great blessing in doing so.
16: We do not return tithes to God because He needs them. We return tithes to him to show that He is the giver of everything, and we are only His stewards. He says, "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." Psalm 50:12.
17: We do not give tithe. We, in fact, cannot give tithe because it is already His. We only return His tithe and the blessings we get by doing so are manifold. The Bible says, "if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 3:10:11.
18: On the other hand if we do not acknowledge God and His ownership, and do not return His tithes, we are guilty of robbery. He says, "Ye have robbed me. . in tithes and offerings." Malachi 3:8. As in returning His tithe, there is blessing; in withholding it, there is curse. The Bible says, "Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Malachi 3:9.
19: Jesus who is our example paid tithe and also encouraged tithe paying while on this earth, because He always acknowledged His father as the Owner. He said, "for ye pay tithe of mint and anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone." Matthew 23:23.
20: God has His plan for the use of tithe. He has set aside this portion for His work only. There are people by thousands who do not recognize Him as the Creator and Owner of everything and they need to know about Him before it is too late. Tithe will do this work. Again, we read in I Corinthians 9:13, "they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple."
21: God feels sorry when we do not accept Him as Owner of all the creation. He says, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me: 'The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Israel 12, 3. You can imagine the sadness of a father, when his son does not recognize him as his father. How long do you think he can bear with him. Finally, a day will come when his father will disown him and he will forfeit all the heritage.
22: In a similar way, God also feels sad towards a person who does not recognize Him. Returning His tithes or withholding them is just giving Him recognition of what He is or not recognizing Him at all. The one guilty of this cannot expect to be blessed by Him.
23: If we could be faithful stewards of ourselves and of all that God has given to us, He has promised a wonderful privilege in the earth made new and it will be our joy to spend the ceaseless ages of eternity with Jesus our Saviour.
Here is additional information on tithes and offerings:
"Bring an offering and come into His courts." Psalm 96:8.
"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7.
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35.
"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man, hath, and not according to that he hath not" 2 Corinthians 8:12.
"Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase." Proverbs 3.9.
"Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation." Numbers 18:21.
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." Psalm 24:1.
"But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth." Deuteronomy 8:18.
"And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God:. . and of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." Genesis 28:20:22.
Here is additional information on walking in the light as it is revealed to us:
"Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth." John 12:35.
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.' 1 John 1:7.
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him." Colossians 2:6.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105.
"The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." Psalm 119:130.