As a child, I hated taking cod liver oil and malt. Now that I’m older, I don’t fuss over my breakfast supplement of one drop of iodine solution. It has a bitter and salty flavor, so I quickly wash it down with tea, but the doctor says it keeps my thyroid happy. Still, I’m grateful that the human diet has not been reduced to pills and potions; most of our nutrients come from interesting foods like lasagna, taco salad, and pad Thai. All the good stuff with boring chemical names is disguised in tasty sauces. At the other end of the scale from mineral solutions are the superfoods that are supposed to contain extra portions of the best beneficial nutrients—minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Blueberries and broccoli feature high on the superfood list. But no one could survive on a diet limited to superfoods—especially broccoli! God designed our bodies to flourish when we eat a variety of healthy foods. The same is true spiritual nutrition—no heavenly superfoods or dietary supplements exist to help us thrive.
Beware of anyone who promotes a particular spiritual method or discipline as THE ingredient for maturity, anointing, or fruitfulness. Good practices exist, but they will never replace balanced spiritual nutrition. The old saying is true, “All spirit, you blow up; all word, you dry up.” It could apply to all the spiritual disciplines. Even though some people enjoy a particular discipline (prayer, for instance) and engage in it more because it is part of their ministry or gifting, everyone needs the complete meal.
So, what are the spiritual equivalents of the food groups needed for a balanced diet? I suggest that they fall into seven broad groups:
- Bible. Most Christians know that reading and studying God’s word is healthy, unfortunately, for some, it remains unopened on the shelf. However, the Bible provides our only objective standard of God’s character and will. Absorbing His word keeps us growing like Him in character, thinking, and behavior. Perhaps we can liken it to nourishment for the skeleton that gives shape to our lives.
- In worship, we encounter God’s presence. True worship involves surrender to God and that allows Him to change us. In that place of intimacy, we find health and become more like our heavenly Father.
- Fellowship. The Christian life has much to do with relationship. When we are in meaningful relationships with other believers, we have opportunity to practice what the Bible says about love, forgiveness, and forbearance. We can exercise the “one anothers” of the New Testament. Fellowship provides a reality check to test what is inside us.
- Repentance is like a purgative. When we repent, we pass the toxins of sin to Jesus who carries them away on the cross.
- Service and ministry are the opportunity to express the inner life. They keep us from self-centeredness and idealism.
- Prayer is conversation with God. Again, we grow more like Him in prayer. It is also where God directs and anoints our work for Him.
- Sacrifice and generosity have unexpected power to accomplish His purposes in and through our lives. They are the bitter salts that require a measure of maturity before they can be swallowed willingly.
Be your own doctor—assess your spiritual nutrition and adjust your diet of the disciplines where necessary.
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The topics and timing of these articles are amazingly relevant. This time, I was doing some online research of nutrition and in comes this article on Spiritual Nutrition. Thank you. I would also like to offer a suggestion: even though you selected a very nice picture of the food pyramid, I noticed it is of the old school where grains comprise the bottom layer. Itdoes appear to have replaced the sugar top point with nuts and legumes. However politically correct this pyramid is, recent research shows that grains are not actually that necessary to our diets. In fact, due to the GMO (genetically modified) history of especially wheat makes it toxic to humans. (“Wheat Belly” by
Since I have modified my diet in alignment with the new food pyramid, I have lost unnecessary weight and feel improvement in arthritis as well as other benefits. The new pyramid would look like: vegetables at the bottom,
proteins including nuts and legumes sharing the next level with fruits. Dairy is not necessary either, but in forms fermented like yogurt and keifer as well as goat cheeses can be beneficial can top off the pyramid. Of course the source of all these foods need to be organic and non-processed for best benefit. As far as treats go, there have been benefits found in dark chocolate and red wines in minute amounts.
In my previous reply I failed to include the authors name to the referenced book, “Wheat Belly” which is by William Davis, MD. Also, I noticed that I left a very critical item out in the nuts category: that of seeds. Wonderful things!
Thanks for that word of exhortation. A well structured post too. God bless you
Thanks for the encouragement, Sean. Please pass the blessing on.