Can Natural Living Become an Idol?

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This post is the finale of our TOP 10 CELEBRATION here at Passionate Homemaking. This post received the most general comments over the last 5 years then any other post on the blog, so I thought it fitting to republish this article for you all.
Originally published on January 21, 2010.

Please note: I want to express my heart from the outset of this post to assure my readers that these are musings that the Lord has been working in my heart lately, and I felt compelled to share them with you. I in no way desire to condemn anyone, but my motivation in sharing is to challenge us all to guard our hearts in this matter.

I recently encountered two stories that have challenged me in the motivation and out workings of my pursuit of natural living. The first account began with a friend desiring to throw a baby shower for an expectant mother in her church. This friend was expecting her first little one. The hostess simply wanted to bless and encourage this new mother in her pursuit. When she asked for gift ideas, the new mother stated that she only wanted organic baby clothing, wooden natural toys, organic cloth diapers, and the like. Half of the guests could not afford these products. One lady missed the memo and came with a few plastic toys.

How do you think this made her hostess and guests feel?

The second account took place when I heard a couple share that they had not been tithing for several months and wanted to begin again. They had not been able to afford it. I knew that this family ate all organic and natural foods. This appeared like it could not be sacrificed.

What is more important?

I have had conversations with friends or family members on various occasions when I tried to persuade them of the health consequences or benefits of a certain product. What has resulted? Relationships have been hurt. I have left others feeling condemned or inadequate. Or at a shared meal gathering, when another mom instructs her son not to eat that food item because “it’s not food”, relationships are damaged because we exalt food over fellowship.

Do I consider myself superior to others because we have adopted a more natural lifestyle?

In the past I have skimped on hospitality because I did not want to spend the money to buy good quality food for my guests or when bringing a meal to another. I made the excuse that I couldn’t afford it. In all honesty, I wanted to keep the best of our budget for my family. This is not true generosity. True generosity takes place when I joyfully give the best that I can following the Scriptural command to do unto others as you would have them do to you (Matt. 7:12).

Where is my heart?

The apostle John’s last words in 1 John are, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts (1 John 5:21).” These last words are significant…He wants them to be remembered.

How often do I turn a good thing into a god thing?

As Tim Keller states in Counterfeit Gods, “Most people know you can make a god out of money. Most people know you can make a god out of sex. However, anything in life can serve as an idol, a God-alternative, a counterfeit god…What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

Natural living can become an idol when we willingly give our emotional and financial resources to achieve it.
Natural living can become an idol when we think that it can give us significance, security, safety and fulfillment.
Natural living can become an idol when we hoard the benefits and not freely offer it to others.

What is my motivation for eating healthy and living naturally? Because I have desired to be a good steward of creation and for the health and wholeness of our family.

Can preserving the safety of my family become an idol in my life? Yes!

When I give my money first towards the purchase of good healthy food prior to giving it back to the Lord in my worship of tithe, natural living has gone too far. When I am more concerned about the safety of my family to the extent that I sacrifice relationships, the service of my brothers and sisters, than natural living has become an idol.

Eating healthy will not guarantee my family a more peaceful longer life. It will not add a single day to my life than God has already determined. Only God knows the number of my days. (Psalms 139:16) He calls me to be faithful to care for my physical body, and this includes being wise in what I put into my body, knowing that it will affect my ability to serve the Lord; but when I raise that to a god-level, it is no longer a good thing. My security must only be found in Christ. He controls my family’s health and wellness.

Eating healthy and living naturally does not make me any more honorable in God’s eyes than any other. We are all in equal standing before Him.

Our first fruit of income should always go to tithe and not food. (Lev. 23:10; Numbers 28:26). Where your money is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21) If I put more money towards my health and wholeness before God and giving unto others, than that is where my treasure lies. It will burn up at the end.

Unity in the body is more important than the safety of our family. (Rom. 14:1-3; Psalms 133)

God calls me to be generous, not to hoard the good stuff for myself. Am I only concerned about my health and not the well-being of my friends, family, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? God loves a cheerful giver. I am challenged to serve the best to my guests as I possibly can. The more you give the less hold it has on your heart. (2 Cor. 8:9)

I have seen and confess to these evidences of idolatry in my heart. Am I implying that organic food, clothing, or wooden toys are bad? In no way. It is a matter of the heart. What is my motivation? Is that a God-glorifying motivation? My challenge to you all…let’s not raise being a good steward to a god position. Let’s not make others feel guilty, discouraged, or overwhelmed because they cannot afford the natural lifestyle or only in part. It’s about relationships. Let’s keep God first, love one another, and pursue giving generously to one another as we are able. Jesus commanded in Luke 10:27 states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I hope you understand my heart in communicating this message. There is no condemnation here. This is just a challenge to go further up and further in in our pursuit of Christ Jesus with me.

“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.” - Romans 14:1-3

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

451 Responses to Can Natural Living Become an Idol?

  1. Vanessa June 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    This article is a blessing! Thank you for posting this! God bless you tremendously!

  2. Farrah May 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Thank you so much. Was in prayer about this some time back when I was getting all excited about my organic/natural food choices and healthy living when I very clearly heard a ‘voice’ in my head say… “Distraction”. You are so right on! Thank you for bringing more light to this issue. It is so easy to get caught up in it all. Thank you for your humility. I am a big fan of your blog!!!

  3. Gaby April 25, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I REALLY loved this article! I think you are brave for sharing this and were right on!! I’ll admit that I even felt a little condemned by a comment of yours on your facebook page once about the difference between rapadura and organic sugar. I felt like since I “only” had organic sugar (which was a stretch to fit in our budget anyways) that it wasn’t as *good*. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention- but I think we all fall into thinking that our way of doing things is best and we do make it an idol. Thank you for these reminders.
    Definitely tithe FIRST and see what changes to your living you can make NEXT. Great words! Great scriptures too!

  4. Nicole April 25, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Thank you for your honesty; you hit the nail on the head! I am new to eating “real food” the traditional way… It is my personality to obsess about things until I can get a good understanding of it. I have been convicted about this idol of mine, the past couple days and when I read this post I was greatly convicted and at the same time greatly encouraged.

    We all need to be careful because our hearts are prone to wander… I heard someone say the other day,”our hearts are little idol factories” LOL! It is so true!

    I am trying to do and learn “one thing at time”.

  5. S. Schulz April 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi–I am new to your site , I was interested in the homemade deoderant… :)
    I felt led to comment on this post.
    I think it is wonderful that the Holy Spirit has prompted you to examine your heart and motives…that is wonderful.
    It really comes down to being led by the Spirit and preferring others in love.
    There is no condemnation in Christ….no matter what a person decides to do as long as they are being led by the Spirit.
    I also want to say that as far as tithing is concerned ….tithing can also become an idol….it is a very subtle idol….for SELF loves to glory in knowing that IT GIVES TO THE LORD while others don’t.
    For our family, the tithe is no longer an amount…..like 10%…..the tithe is now become our STATE OF BEING…..everything we are and have belongs to Him…..and for me to write those words is due to the inworking of His grace to come INTO this understanding and all glory belongs to Him alone.
    The peace of Christ to you as you continue seeking Him.

  6. Becky April 20, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    I see that there are already a lot of comments both supporting and disagreeing with this post, but I would like to add my voice as well:

    Amen, Sister!

    The only thing that should ever come between us and any relationship with anybody (believer or not) should be the gospel; that Christ died for us & will one day redeem this fallen creation. Let us, by all means, be good stewards with what we eat, but as Paul says in Romans, “…It is not what we put into our mouths that defiles them, but what comes out…” (I paraphrased there), meaning that our words are more important than what we eat.

    Thank you for posting such a challenging post.

    Becky

  7. TheCrunchyGemini March 22, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    This is very interesting. I didn’t have time to read the whole thing or the comments but my initial gut reaction is that I would think that by putting the focus on health we are honoring our bodies that God gave us :) With all the cancer and autism and mental health disorders and other various health problems in my genetic line – and seeing my daughter now also being sensitive and having eczema – I know that my priority in life is to protect her at any cost.

  8. Kim March 13, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    My husband has recently challenged my with the thought that the extreme focus on food, regardless of what your reason is for it… is a form of gluttony. “I should only eat what is best for me”….. I need to ponder this more, but I do think its worth considering. At some point we need to see food – all the food God provides – as Manna.. and know that He is Good and He is Faithful… even if what He provides is not all natural, whole grain, organic, grain fed, fat free, sugar free, chemical free, home grown, locally grown, etc…. There are SO MANY people in the world who have no way of knowing WHEN they will get their next meal… or WHAT it will be. Here in America (and so many other developed countries) we forget that in our trek to the Whole Foods or even the Farmer’s Market. At what point is our focus on food GLUTTONY???

    • Kami March 13, 2012 at 4:59 am #

      You said it yourself the food that HE provides. My avoiding GMOs (man made in a lab) does not make me a glutton.

      • Kami March 13, 2012 at 5:03 am #

        Also chemically sprayed imported foods KILL the workers, make them very very sick, ruin their homelands etc. I see it as another way to serve God by helping people. You may think I am crazy, but buying local organic foods can save lives and improve lives.

        • Bea April 7, 2012 at 10:12 am #

          I absolutely see where you are coming from Kami. I think it is VERY important that we do our best to provide the best for our families. With knowledge comes responsibility! I think what this post and Kim was trying to say is, there are times when we let our concerns over what is healthy and good outshine Gods ability to lead and protect. I believe whole heartedly and am very passionate about whole living. I want to buy only organic, local foods. There was a point though that I had to realize that our budget just wont allow it. I had to let go and realize that I can only do what I can do, the rest is up to God. He calls us to be responsible and we need to meet that calling to the best of our ability. I have to believe that God has my back though in all areas, especially those where I fall short. I guess what I am trying to say is, I don’t think anyone was saying organic whole living is a bad thing. It is a very very good thing! The question we all have to ask ourselves is at what point does our knowledge usurp our faith in Gods ability to provide our ultimate security. I don’t think this post was about compromising our health so as not to offend anyone so much as saying God calls us to be generous and gracious. If you go to a friends home and she has slaved over a wonderful meal but that meal doesn’t meet all of your standards, can you be gracious and eat some of it anyway, knowing that God will bless you for it in the end?

          • Kami April 8, 2012 at 8:10 am #

            Bea I would never turn down anyone’s meal! Certainly not for pesticides and what not-although my daughter has food allergies so I would have to turn it down for those.

            I think it’s very extreme for someone to refuse food from someone else based on that, but I’m sure it does happen.

            I am lucky enough that our organic local grown food is WAY cheaper than the grocers so it’s not a struggle for our low income family to eat this way. The meat is a few dollars a pound cheaper and it’s grassfed/pastured. We use benefits for produce at the farm and we get double produce b/c we are on benefits. I think a lot of people underestimate farmer’s markets and local farms and assume it is more costly or too much of a hassle. Winter is hard for us b/c the markets are not open and that is when our budget is super tight.

            We still choose to shop where GMO foods are not sold though, I will eat anything at anyone elses home but I can’t bring myself to support these biochemist and companies who think they are God and are controlling our food system. I feel very passionately against these companies. I won’t feed into evil if I can help it and Monsanto is evil for sure.

    • Yvonne March 13, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      To borrow from a book mentioned by the write of this article, written by Tim Keller (this is his quote) – “Anger is the result of love. It is energy for defense of something you love when it is threatened. If you don’t love something at all, you are not angry when it is threatened. If you love something a little, you get a little angry when it is threatened. If something you love is an ‘ultimate concern,’ if it is something that gives you meaning in life, then when it is threatened you will get uncontrollably angry. When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, is is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’ It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger.”

      When ever I question the deep rooted attachment to natural living, etc, inevitably I see angry venting on me or others who may have reason to pause in the process. I question my own self over this same issue. But when I see an angry response, it makes me question what is being defended (again, in my own heart). I simply feel that the author hit a chord with this article – and Natural Living CAN Become an Idol. We all must look into our own hearts on this issue… and considering what our idols are (and I speak of myself here) is essential as we walk in relationship with God.

    • Lisa Lee April 5, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      It’s not gluttony until we begin to “worship” the creation rather than the Creator.

      • Yvonne April 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        From another site
        “In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:

        Laute – eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
        Nimis – eating food that is excessive in quantity
        Studiose – eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
        Praepropere – eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
        Ardenter – eating too eagerly.

        Aquinas notes that the first three ways are related to the nature of the food itself, while the last two have to do with the time or manner in which it is consumed”

  9. Kellie March 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. I always think I am trying to help others with my knowledge of what is good and what is bad to eat. This made me realize I may be making my best friend feel inadequate and I am sure to watch how I word my food advice( if giving any) from now on.

  10. Amy LaRue February 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    GREAT MESSAGE!!

  11. Lana February 8, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Wow – Thanks so much for your transparency here. Just yesterday, I felt the Lord caution me to not make natural eating an idol…and here I find a wealth of encouragement and scripture on that very topic. All I googled was “safety of Borax!” What I ended up finding, though, was a Christian sister who has been and, I believe, will be used of the Lord to sharpen & encourage me.

  12. Kristel February 6, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    So well said! Thank you for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He always knows just the thing to say to touch our hearts! blessings!

  13. Mali Korsten (The Korsten Chronicle) January 23, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    This is a very sensitive issue and one which I am struggling with at the moment. I am on a very strict diet to try and restore my health (which has been holding me back for over a decade). It has put a strain on certain relationships, particularly with friends who love to cook for guests. I have been trying to steer social gatherings to a focus other than food, but this seems to cause contention, particularly when we are so accustomed to gathering around a meal. On the one hand I am desperate to get my health back (not least so that I can be of more service to the kingdom), but on the other hand I am aware of the scripture that says to “eat whatever is set before you”. I am rather torn on the matter.

  14. Jason January 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

    I am torn on some of your comments. Alot of what you say is true but I think some is stereo typing. There is a tremendous push for organic’s and quite frankly I am in the midst of that push. When you talk about families affording the food or sacrificing quality for tithe I don’t agree! Daniel did not sacrifice for the king he ate what came from the ground not what the king provided, I am a firm believer in levitical law right now and lev. 19 talks about not cross breeding of crops but this is what the food industry has done to us! So I say be Daniel and stand up to the food industry king.
    Some of what you are talking about is a “popular thing to do” but for the mom that asked for all organic’s, would your statement be different if that mom had lost her first child to cancer and was possibly linked to genetically modified foods? Or is she still ruining relationships because others don’t see the importance? I think that senerio is more about respecting each other than relationships.

    • John January 19, 2012 at 5:04 am #

      Jason, 1 Timothy 4:3-5 states otherwise and this topic does go along with what this verse says. The Bible does not forbid us from eating any food. You say you are a firm believer in the levitical law but the levitical law was specifically for the Jew (not gentile) and it was for that time. James 2:10 says “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” If we live by the law then we will be judged by the law.

      There is nothing wrong with providing whats best for your family but when it takes over and becomes your #1 focus and turns into extremism that is the sin. I have seen this movement become a crutch that keeps people from ministering to families. Our focus as Christians needs to be spreading the gospel of Christ but how many of us would rather rant on about “healthy living”, Gluten free diets, don’t eat ___ because it is not the food God intended us to eat, etc… all of that is the wood, hay and stubble that will be burned up and will be time wasted for eternity.

    • Sweetpeas January 19, 2012 at 5:39 am #

      @ Jason, the problem I see with comparing the topic of this post to Daniel, is that Daniel was asking for cheaper “peasant” food. I don’t think there is anything wrong (at least in American culture, I can’t speak to foreign cultures) with saying “no thank you, I’d prefer a glass of water” if someone offers you a soda. Or politely turning down an offer of dessert. However, if someone invites me to their house for a meal and apologetically says “we’re having lasagna, but it’s not organic”, I’m not going to say “oh, then I can’t eat your food”,

    • kami January 28, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      I am too very concerned about these man made crossbred foods. Not even in a Biblical sense per se but in the sense that these foods are horrifying man made concoctions. They do cause adverse effects. What about these mutant cross bred animals they are creating like the GMO salmon?

      Sure there is no food requirement for the Christian but IMO these are not foods! I would rather eat what God has actually provided than take the devils seed.

      That being said I do not spend more money on organic than I would conventional I actually spend less going to local farms and getting amazing prices. We are VERY low income so I have to make all of our meals from scratch. I always welcome company and I feed them to the best of my ability.

      Organic food in no way comes before God. We can not tithe on our income but our food budget is very modest as well. We don’t have cell phones or any extras either. God knows where we are at and once my husband finishes school and gets a better job we will tithe. Right now we give what we can. I have gotten money for birthdays and holidays that I have given right to God instead of getting myself something. This is good enough for now b/c well it’s just the way it is.

      I tried to shop at a grocery store a couple months ago and the meat was $2 more a pound than what we pay at the farm and the produce was WAY over budget for us. So I’m not convinced it’s an organic food dilemma.

      That being said we get cotton clothes but not organic and my child does play with mostly wooden toys but that is because we enjoy quality over quantity. Have you seen how much plastic toys cost anyway? A Thomas train set is like $40…

      I do agree it could become idol like and obsessive to live this lifestyle though, just like anything else can be.

  15. Deborah Rowden January 14, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Lindsay, you insight for a young woman is amazing! I am 59 years old and living clean for quite sometime. I have felt heard the whispers of the Spirit telling me to be careful in this for quite sometime as well. When I read this, His voice was loud and clear!

    Thank you so very much for your honesty and faith! People are and always will be more important to our Father than our ideas of what’s right or good. He alone is only right and good and anything we elevate above that is an idol.

    Again, thank you! One more advancement in freedom for me! :o ) I am free to love!

  16. Sarah D November 14, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you so much for this Lindsay. i have read it a bit later than you posted but timely enough, for me. You are a succcessful blogger because of your honesty, especially in regards to yourself! And it has convicted me. We all need to hear this and be reminded to think about WHY we are trying to have a healthy lifestyle- as you say, is it a God-orientated motivation? I particularly appreciated your comment, “are we sacrificing fellowship for food”? You have blessed my thinkings on this today and are preparing my heart for the Christmas season with family.

  17. Rachel November 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    Wow, thank you sooo much for this post! I can really relate with what you said. may God bless you for your open and willing heart.

    In Christ alone,

    Rachel

  18. Rhonda August 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I just found your blog and I love it. This entry topic is one I’ve thought about alot. While I enjoy feeding my family healthy food, I’ve come to accept that we do the best we can and God can make whatever they eat nourishment to their bodies. He is in control. We ask Him to bless the food and He does.
    Thank you for your reminder.

    • Jamie October 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      I too have been thinking about this topic lately as our church is going through Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life series. The section on idols brought to light many things in my life that I was putting before God – health/nutrition being one of them. In the section on idols it talked about how we as humans are “idol factories” and I’ve realized how true it is. We take the good things in life and go too far with them only to hurt our relationship with God instead of glorify him with what we do. It is a struggle that I am trying to resolve and hope to not hurt those around me with my words/decisions, but to bring glory to God in all that I do.

  19. Sarah August 27, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    This is a fantastic article. I think many mothers in our generation are confronted with this issue and it can be such a hot button one. Thanks so much for this reminder to be full of grace and love toward one another!

  20. Nicole August 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Thank you for this! I have also felt the same way. I wish my family could do more natural things and eat more organic and all natural foods but sometimes it’s just too expensive.
    I have friends who I think go overboard with the natural living stuff sometimes and comments that they make to me make me feel like I am “less than” because we don’t do it too. It especially bothers me when people get then “holier than thou” attitude.
    Just as food can become an idol by overeating and eating too much junk it can also become an idol by obssessing over organic, all-natural, ect..

  21. Roselette August 9, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    Thanks, for the courage to write this. It has been a good reminder for me. So true, theres always some god that wants to take us from the true God.

    • Danielle August 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

      Well said, what a blessing to read right now :)

  22. Sharon July 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    It can be just as God-glofiying to have a coke as it is not to have a coke. It all goes back to your heart motive.

    I am just stepping in to natural living, for I have dear friends who are very passionate about it. I know they mean well, and quite honestly I have taken several tidbits from them and have applied them. I am so grateful for their advice and such, but what hurts my heart is when some people elevate this and make me feel less spiritual or less caring about my body because I take tylenol or something. I am not going to “grit my teeth and play haas” just to prove a point or delighting in self-abasement just to make me feel better. What matters is relationships. Thank you for pointing that out.

    God gives us all things, but it truly comes down to what is BEST for my family and me. In the end, what matters most is not what I eat or drink (that doesn’t mean that I can go out and eat whatever I want or drink what I want to the serious detriment of my body or others); what matters most is JESUS! Am I JUST as passionate about Christ and living out the living word by a quiet life (Gal 5) than I am about natural living? Only God can judge somebody’s heart. I agree with Paul in Colossians where this “don’t eat, don’t touch” mentality is nothing but asceticism. Natural living or anything can be an idol and take us captive (Colossians 2). We have to strive to “set our minds on things above” (Col 3). As Edwards put it, “Our hearts are idol making factories.” If it isn’t natural living, it will be something else.

    I appreciate your balance in this article. In the end, all that will matter will be Christ. We will be judged according to the deeds done in our bodies, and then and only then, will we see truly, in the light of His grace, see what really mattered!

    Post more articles like this! We need balance!!!

    In Christ!!!!

  23. Kara July 26, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post! It has challenged me and encouraged me!

  24. Kristi June 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Thank you…..

  25. Kythka June 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    This is a beautiful, tenderly written post. Thank you, I feel blessed by your words.

  26. Heather June 18, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    Thank you for your site. I just found it yesterday and then I read this post. I have had this revelation many times in the last 12 years. My parents died within 9 months of each other and after that, I changed all of my thinking concerning health and food and living. I got completely consumed with it. My husband said I wasn’t even the same person (which I thought was a good thing!). Anyways…at different times, I have had to back off and just be. Just be happy with what I have….just be ok with what I can do health wise…just be doing what God wants me to do. I add a few things every once in a while. And I had to remember exactly what you said: God knows when I’m going to go to heaven. I can do what I can do and that’s it.I am still showing people healthier ways to live, even if I don’t obsess over it. :)
    Thanks!!

  27. kellie June 14, 2011 at 5:26 am #

    thank you for this post! refreshing and so good to remember.

    after reading through the comments i think it is important to remember that the verse’s about our body being a temple, are in the context of dealing with sexual immorality. so often people throw these verse’s out to make the point that being “healthy” is biblical. i am not saying that it isn’t, just that we should be careful to use the Bible in context. i think Jesus is way more concerned about our heart (spiritually speaking) than our health. as the author said, we cannot add a day to our lives. though we have to be wise and take care of these bodies our Father has given us, we have a deeper responsibility to take care of our heart.

    • Emily June 14, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      If that were so, Kellie, you’d find Jesus in the New Testament simply forgiving sins. You are way off the mark. And this post (above) is all about TITHING and not at all natural living. Did you see the clever way it was masked?

      • kellie June 14, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

        i think this post is about both, but i could be wrong. natural living can become an idol, when it becomes a god to you. if it causes you not to tithe then natural living is the idol. i agree that Jesus did not simply forgive sins, and this is not what i am talking about. but, i see several places where He makes heart much more important than the physical body. i am all about natural living… but i often have to check my heart and make sure the Jesus has first place… and not just in the area of natural living, in all areas.

        • kellie June 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

          What Defiles a Person

          10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. [3] And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? [4] 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

          • kellie June 14, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

            sorry that was Matthew 15: 10-20

  28. ali June 10, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    WOW!!! Thank you SO much for posting this!! I can get really excited…a bit too excited with new things. This has given me the perfect perspective on how I should go about being sensitive to my friends as I go on this journey for myself. THANK YOU!!! XoXo

  29. Cindy May 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    I totally agree that we should not idolize our ideals nor judge others. But I do think it is important to share knowledge with others, whether they accept it or not. After all, this is what we do when we praise God to others, right? One way to praise God is to share the ways in which we can take better care of our bodies and planet, which are both creations of God. Usually, knowledge is more valuable and more lasting than monetary gifts.

    I believe we have a sacred obligation to share our ideals and truths, so that we can all evolve into a higher state of spirituality, thus better serving God. These can always be shared through a loving, honest, nonjudgemental attitude.

    • Lindsay May 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

      Agreed…in the case when it is asked for. I am passionate about educating people but it is always better received when they pursue me for input, suggestions, or recommendations for health. When I force it upon them, they are more likely not to hear it at all and cause division in the relationship. This is just not worth it.

  30. Lisa @ Bright Mama May 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    I do find it is just so easy to get wrapped up in. Sometimes I have to step back and remember why I am even chasing after these things!

  31. Amanda S April 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this. I have often struggled with this as many of my friends I feel go beyond striving to be healthy & responsible to letting it become their idol. It’s just encouraging to hear someone say “yes, it can be an idol.” because many people idolize it, yet deny it and are judgemental of me.

  32. Tina March 21, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Hi Lindsay,

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I stumbled on your blog while googling soaked flour bagels. I really appreciate this post you made, it is so true that we can make anything an idol in our life. I have been motivated for the past year or so to eat food that is “clean” and other than venision, try not to consume any meat. My motivation for this has been that I believe cancer is caused by the unhealthy, processed foods that we consume on a regular basis in the US. However, it has become an idol for me, because I have become so consumed with cancer prevention and constantly wasting time searching the net for more info that I have spent less and less time with my Heavenly Father, whose hands my life is in anyways! So, thank you again for this post, I really appreciated it!

    Tina

  33. Julie March 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Thank you for this. God, at times, has clever ways of removing idols–I used cloth diapers with my first two kids. I started using them with my third, but then the city where we live (in Mexico) stopped sending us water. We had enough to skimpingly do everything but laundry. No more cloth diapers!

  34. Sarah Mendenhall February 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    I absolutely agree with this post. Very well written and convicting! My family eats mostly raw, vegan, gluten free, and organic. It can be difficult when going out to eat or over to someones house. Because I don’t have any health issues I am gracious and I try not to overdo it if I’m eating something we wouldn’t serve at home. I do think that sharing knowledge about health in a gracious way is something that God would want us to do. I do have a question though, I am not a mom yet but I have wondered how to handle wedding or baby showers. I know that the gracious thing to do would probably be just having the shower and be grateful for the gifts received. I just cringe at the thought of dressing my baby in polyester or giving them plastic toys but at the same time my heart would break if I made someone feel bad if they gave those things as gifts. I know health is holistic, it’s not just one thing, but at the same time if God has shown us truth and given us knowledge about a certain topic, shouldn’t we honor that?

    • Emily February 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      When dealing with others, it is of utmost importance to be aware of God’s calling on your heart — is this person receptive? is this the right time? do I have the right words to speak? is God really calling me to have a conversation with this person about this issue?

      Everyone’s journey and struggles are unique, because God brings things into our lives for special reasons. Not everyone is going to get the same lessons at the same time. Just because I learned something new doesn’t mean it’s now my job to correct those around me who haven’t “got there” yet. It may be that God will never bring that particular test upon that family. I don’t need to play ‘Holy Spirit.’ Isn’t God mighty to save? Doth not the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avail much?

      At the same time, however, there is a season for everything. If God truly is calling upon my heart to speak out, I will likely feel a serious hesitance to do the work and a genuine inadequacy for the task, meaning I will lean on him and trust him to do the work in me and through me. And I will leave the consequences up to God.

    • Sweetpeas February 20, 2011 at 7:46 am #

      I dealt with this to some extent when I was pregnant with my youngest. Not only did I want to avoid most of the “mainstream baby stuff”, but I had kept the things I did need/use from my older children so I truly didn’t NEED anything for the baby, and the things on my “wish list” were things like cloth diapers that are only available online. When some women from church wanted to give me a shower, I was honest with them, that I greatly appreciated the thought, but really didn’t need anything, and we live in a small house so space is an issue as well. They decided to throw me a “book shower” and asked each person to bring a favorite children’s book. It worked out GREAT! I love books!

      My other plan, if this hadn’t worked out & I *had* received a bunch of things I couldn’t use, was to be appreciative, and then take most of them to a local women’s shelter. I didn’t anticipate getting much as far as clothes, because we didn’t know the gender & in my experience, people who know (& tell) baby’s gender get lots of clothes at baby showers, those of us who don’t, get very few, there’s not that much neutral baby clothes out there anymore, and it’s mostly practical sleepers & stuff, not cute (but often impractical) outfits, so people are less likely to buy them. That said, I’ve known people who, when they received clothes that weren’t their style as baby gifts, kept track of who gave it to them, put each outfit on the baby once & took a picture & sent that to the giver, then felt free to pass the clothes on to the consignment shop.

      • Encourager April 5, 2011 at 8:02 am #

        What a great idea to take a picture of the baby in the outfit and send it to the giver!
        In this economy, one must be careful not to ‘lecture’ others regarding what the lecturer thinks is best. We do not know the struggles someone else is going through. We do not know if they are on the brink of losing their home, their job, sickness in the family with no health care insurance. It is time to pray before we speak, friends! Sometimes things come out of my mouth and my brain is going ‘where did THAT come from?!’ only to have the person I am talking to say it was exactly what they needed to hear or that it was a confirmation of something God had been saying to them. I would rather have that happen then wish I had bit my tongue because I hurt, wounded or burdened someone.

    • Rachel March 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      I have struggled with your topic as well, and have been advised (by the Holy Spirit) that keeping my mouth shut is more often a blessing than is saying something. People each have to be convicted of things in their own time, and we can answer questions if people ask, but it’s not our job to be the Holy Spirit for them (or the ‘enlightener’). As for gifts, graciously accept them, and if they are totally unusable (in your opinion), pass them on to someone who would be grateful for them instead. These days very few baby things are polyester (most are 100% cotton), and baby/wedding registries help you know what to ask for and what to give. Realize the giving is more important than the gift, and that it’s not the end of the world to chew on a plastic toy. I have 3 little kids, and we strive to eat and live healthy, but we also have to just live. This post explains is perfectly about the balance.

  35. Emily January 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    First I want to say that even though I allow myself to be a little more picky at home and with what I feed my family, I take great pains to be gracious towards others. So this post certainly resounded, on one level, with an Amen from me! (“Finally!!! Someone who sees this topic like I do!”)

    Yet, it seemed like the topic of the post was not actually about idols in natural living but, rather, how much a person should sacrifice — and of what items — in order to tithe.

    We are instructed that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that we should glorify God in our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Considering the diet God commanded in Eden (he is the Creator after all) and the exceptions after the Flood (provided the circumstances), we are shown that God certainly does care about what we eat. Therefore, we don’t believe that it is glorifying to God to provide poorly for your family (1 Timothy 5:8) — nutrition included.

    A proper diet does more for a person’s spirituality than you may be taking into consideration. Take the valiant story of Daniel, for example, when he was offered the King’s food, which was a rich diet and offered to idols, he asked (with VERY GOOD MANNERS, I might add) that a trial might be done in which he could prove that a simple (and by even organic standards INEXPENSIVE) vegetarian diet would be healthier for him and his companions. (Daniel 1:5-17) This was done for ten days and he was fatter and fairer in flesh than all other youth compared. A healthy body provides the platform for a clear mind, which will enhance a person’s ability to hear the voice of God speaking to their conscience, and is, even by itself, a much better glory to God than a sluggish, smelly, ill-performing one. Daniel became the wisest man in the kingdom, and it was because he followed his Maker’s guidelines in everything he did. Because of his faithfulness, God gave him wisdom and understanding in all visions and dreams.

    Talk to any serious athlete today, and you will discover that our common diets are not at all meant for health, nor will they impart such to you.

    Now, I am not at all challenging the issue of tithing or how your family eats. Those are your decisions to make between you and your spouse and your Creator. And I certainly don’t want to encourage those folks who are so rude about how they live above everyone else (just think of them as the fearful ones mentioned in Romans 14 and be kind, okay).

    However, this living machinery we are given *must* be taken care of if it is to function. And “organically grown” does not simply mean no chemical fertilizers. It also means more nutrition, because the soil is allowed to operate the way God intended it to.

    So I challenge you to not give up on eating healthy, but to find ways of making your healthy eating more simple and affordable (for instance, buying in bulk and actually eating things like lentils). And to cut out things from your lifestyle that are true idols — things that take your time and attention in amounts greater than God’s work as a wife and mother.

    For me, an obvious idol might be… Facebook.

    • Cindy May 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Beautifully put, Emily. I’d like to add that I tend to think it is equally important to God to take care of our planet (his beautiful creation) as it is to take care of our bodies (more of his creation) and each other (yet even more creation). Supporting businesses that keep the health of our planet in mind, even if it means we have to do without some luxuries, seems important to me.

      And yes, facebook has totally been my idol lately. Yikes!

  36. Heather Hammond January 28, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Thank you for posting this. A friend sent me the link and it is timely for me to read this. Thank you. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I needed that kick in the butt right now. Thanks for being courageous to write such an honest and preachy post – it spoke to me.

  37. Joanne January 1, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Reading this was such a relief for me. Over the past year I’ve dealt with an abnormal thyroid condition and the difficulty of becoming pregnant. Once I learned about more about this condition I became increasingly concerned with my diet and the ingredients in just about everything I ate. I sought out alternatives, obsessively, to avoid repercussions to my daily bread, but have lived with such fear and no joy that I’ve completely missed the bottom line that you wrote about. Thank you for putting the challenge out there. I am so thankful to have read it January 1, 2011 just as my husband (and I) have set out to follow a new financial budget this year. The timing couldn’t be any better. Thank you for pointing me to my true Daily Bread once again.

  38. Renee Stam December 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    Excellent post! We need to balance things, their is nothing wrong to eat right and exercise but their is a problem when we make them a god or that we are addicted to it!!!!

  39. Nisha December 13, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing and being transparent! I too was reminded of how we should be busy advancing the Kingdom of God and pleasing Him in our everyday lives, and that these things don’t matter if we are not doing it with a heart that desires to do the will of God.

  40. Lonna November 27, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    I was convicted of something like this about two years ago. I was talking with a friend about all of my new found information regarding Monsanto’s GMO seeds and passionately telling of my disgust and what I new my mission was going to be – to fight for labeling and to ban the sale of these fruits and vegetables.

    She listened, then simply said, “What if you put this passion into the expansion God’s Kingdom? What more could you accomplish with this energy?”

    Well, she was right. I think that it is easy to get caught up (well I know this for sure). While, I am still passionate about the same topics, I have slowed down a little and have tried to gain more perspective and balance. Why is it so easy to get passionate about the things of the world, when our Lord God is so much more worthy of our thoughts, praise, time, efforts, money, etc.?

    As for healty eating, organic foods and the like – I have too struggled with what to do at restaurants, homes, or anywhere where I am 100% sure that the meat is full of hormones and the vegetables full of pesticides and probably GMO. I almost started having something just short of panic because it felt like I was eating poison.

    So, I have prayed about it over and over and believe to have an answer. I pray over my food everytime I eat and bless it to our bodies. We mostly eat at home or 80% of the time. At home, I make sure that at least 90% of it is organic, free of hormones, not processed, etc. I figure if 80% of the time we are eating whole healthy foods and the other 20% try to make good decisions about the non-organic foods – we should be ok and I can take my mind off of the poison in the food.

    My biggest issue in life is balance and I strive for it everyday – God help me.

    Thank you for your blog. :)

    • Emily January 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

      @Lonna: Amen, sister! I’ve heard of this as being called, “Chasing Satan’s rabbits,” or, in other words, getting really off-track on things that God has not placed in our path. Good thoughts!

  41. Carrie November 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I appreciate your insight – I too have struggled with this at times. I would like to encourage you all though, that there have also been times when my pursuit of natural living has better enabled me to serve God. For instance, I have found that using natural beauty care options (going shampoo/conditioner and antiperspirant-free and using natural options like baking soda and vinegar in their place) can leave you with more time and money available. I have also found that at times, this type of lifestyle can lead to further open doors for sharing of God’s care for His people and His commands for us to care for our bodies and the environment. Sometimes the trappings of modern culture can just as likely lead to idols as a natural lifestyle. We need to be careful to be always putting God at the forefront regardless of our other lifestyle choices. Thanks for this great reminder.

  42. Kate {The Parchment Girl} November 17, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing what God placed on your heart. This is something I battle, especially because I have a serious chronic illness and must eat the healthiest food if I am to ever get better and function on a daily basis. I’m also aware that even if I get to the point where I have no symptoms, this disease will always be at my back, and I will have to be extremely vigilant about my diet and lifestyle if I am to prevent a relapse. On the one hand, I want to be healthy and whole physically so that I can serve the body of Christ as I so want to–and am unable to do now in my sickness. On the other hand, I know that my situation, and someday my history with a chronic illness will make fighting this battle against health idolatry extremely difficult at times. Putting my tithe first is the easy part. The hard part will be handling situations where I am faced with a decision to eat the bad food . . . or avoid it and risk hurting someone. Now I don’t have the luxury of choosing. Food affects me in some scary ways and I have to avoid sugar, white flour, etc. at all costs . . . but when I’m better, that will be something I’ll have to make judgement calls on.

    When it comes to doing unto others what you would have them do unto you, your story of the mother who only wanted organic products given to her at the baby shower resonated with me. If I ever had kids, while I probably wouldn’t voice my desire for organic products, I would probably be thinking it in my heart and cringing at every plastic toy passed my way. I know that’s not right either, and I know that I idolize the health of my family–especially because my health is so poor. It’s so hard to recognize the line where the good thing becomes bad.

    • Lothelena November 11, 2011 at 1:24 am #

      Don’t feel obliged to eat the food at someone else’s house if it is health related. I have many food allergies and recently traveled to speak at a church, staying with strangers. I talked to them beforehand and acknowledged how frustrating it is for someone who values and enjoys giving hospitality but I have to travel with my own food, my own pan and utensils. I think it would make someone feel a lot worse knowing that eating their food had made me so sick I couldn’t fulfill my speaking engagement. In your case, people who care about you aren’t going to mind cooking a special dish for you or allowing you to bring your own food, just be honest about it.

  43. Mitzi Fountain November 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    I thought I was the only one who suspected this was happening in the body of Christ. Thank you for writing what I have been feeling. Wonderfully said! Just discovered your website too! I will be visiting often.

  44. Christy C. November 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    So SPOT ON! Thank you for sharing!

  45. Kelly November 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Lindsay, Thank you so much for these thoughts. It has really encouraged me tonight and pushed me to make God my #1 priority. I have put so much time and effort into my natural lifestyle and not nearly as much in my love and relationship with Christ – especially lately. I am so grateful for the reminder of things being idols. Thank you.

  46. Linda November 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Amen to your post!! This exact subject has been on my mind in recent months. You did an excellent job expressing your thoughts on this subject and have challenged me to think and pray on it more. While I don’t go too far with natural living most of the time, it can easily become an idol and an obsession.

    God bless you
    Linda

  47. Heather Johnson November 1, 2010 at 4:58 am #

    I’ve thought about this before. Thanks for posting. It stinks that idols are usually good things elevated instead of actual bad things. Pray we all find the balance. . . .

  48. Gina October 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    I have just learned an incredible amount about food and have realized what I thought was healthy really wasn’t. I have been so filled with excitement about all of this new information that it has consumed all of my free time in the past week. This post was right on time for me tonight, as God always is! Thank you for this gentle reminder!

  49. Debrah Boho October 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    Solid information here. Still looking for more knowledge on natural health and would be thankful any advice. Thanks!

  50. Leah October 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder. Food is something I struggle with a lot-even God wants me to lighten up.