Devotional Readings

Sweeten the Health Message

And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Deuteronomy 6:6, 7, NLT.

After Cheryl attended a lifestyle seminar she went home and turned her kitchen upside-down. Out went the hamburger, ice cream, refined sugar, white flour, margarine, processed foods, candy bars, and caffeinated drinks. She put the family on an exercise program and lectured them about health reform.

Most health buffs would applaud Cheryl for her zeal, but the way she went about it was anything but healthy. Why? Her family became so angry at her for taking away all the “good” stuff and imposing on them a “restrictive” lifestyle that they didn’t understand, that they turned away in disgust. Just as you can’t come home from church a saved person and require all your family to read the Bible and pray, so you can’t force health reform on people who haven’t yet caught the vision.

Make health reform attractive. Sweeten it a little. Motivate and make it fun. Persuade; don’t push. Here’s what I’ve learned from families who have made the transition successfully:

  1. Live what you believe. You can’t expect others to live healthily if you don’t! Your actions will speak louder than words. Do your children see you putting on your jogging shoes and heading out into the brisk morning air? Do they see you choosing an apple instead of a piece of pie, or water instead of a soda? Pray that God will give you the will power to act on your beliefs.
  2. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Living healthily should make sense. Keep it simple. If something depresses your immune system, clouds your thinking, or puts you at risk for heart disease, stroke, or diabetes–it’s bad.

  3. Be flexible and balanced. Don’t be so health-conscious that you make your family miserable. Don’t be so concerned about what you put into your mouth that you forget to watch what comes out in terms of criticism and faultfinding. (And if you feel a sermon coming on, bite your tongue!)
  4. Make changes slowly.
  5. Be happy and praise God. A healthy grouch appeals to no one.

Consider one healthy lifestyle change you’d like your family to make. What could you do to make it appealing rather than appalling?

–Kay Kuzma

from Fit Forever: One-A-Day Devotionals for Body, Mind, and Spirit
Kay Kuzma (editor) | Review & Herald (2005)
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