This is the margin I seem to struggle with the most lately. I’ve been sick more than ever before and have had reoccurring back problems. At first I attributed it to my move to a new community, and the changes of being newly remarried, gaining three step kids, getting older, and so forth. However, I’m realizing it has more to do with my resistance to physical limits than anything else.

             
Are you like me? When you feel there’s much to do and so little time to get it done, do you tend to push yourself until you’re so spent you can hardly function? God has been convicting me, and allowing me to suffer occasional “time outs” of sickness and pain, to convince me how important it is to operate within the margins He prescribes for our physical bodies.
             
Whatever we do in our Body affects our Spirit (relationship with God) and Soul (relationships with others). They are intertwined. That’s why when we insist on doing our own thing instead of God’s, it negatively affects our body (Psa. 38:4-8; Prov. 3:5-8, 4:20-22, 14:30).
            
The illustration below shows four biblical margins. In the center are all the hours of the day. On the sides are the limits God puts on those activities for our health and safety. If you’re a Christian and have asked Jesus to be Lord of your life, the first margin belongs to Him. You are His dwelling, His house, His temple, and the way you care for your body should honor Him. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
GOD’S HOUSE
FOOD
BODY
SEX
EXERCISE/REST
            
The second margin is in our sexuality. The purpose of sex is not just to have babies, nor is it a diversion, an escape, a weapon, or a form of entertainment. Sexual intimacy is meant to be a holy union between a man and woman within the covenant of marriage. Anything else crosses the boundaries God designed and created for the beauty, pleasure, health, and safety of our physical being. These are just a few of many scriptures on sexuality (Mal. 2:15; Rom. 13:12-14; Gal. 5:16-21, 6:7-9; 1 Cor. 6:12-20, 1 Thess. 4:3-8).
             
The third margin is the area of food. Most of us know what foods and how much we should eat for good health. However, very few Christians refrain from eating regularly, to practice the spiritual discipline of fasting. God has urged me forward in this for the last few years, and the rewards have been tremendous. Because I love to eat and have a history of food addiction, I did not begin enthusiastically. However, God continued to show me reasons why I should.
           
Fasting benefits the body. Food is the fuel that keeps us going; fasting gives it a rest from the never-ending job of digestion. But mostly, it benefits the spirit and soul, giving them victory over the flesh, which always wants to dominate our actions. It gives us time to focus on prayer, listen for God’s instructions, and seek Him in earnest. Jesus referred to fasting as a practice His followers would continue after His return to heaven (Matt. 6:16-18, 9:14-15; Mark 2:18-19; Acts 13:2-3, 14:22-23). If you are considering this, I applaud and encourage you! You will be blessed immeasurably, and challenged as never before.
             
The final physical margin is exercise and rest. Neither one is meant to master us, nor to be completely ignored. Our bodies are created for both movement and repose. Our needs change according to our age, our work environment, and our physical limitations, but obedience to God is imperative, not only for physical health, but our spiritual and emotional welfare.
    

I hope this series is challenging you to go deeper, reach higher, and draw closer to Jesus in every aspect of your life. In the next two posts, we will take a look at what scripture says about the margins for our mind and emotions, and in ministry.