They are currently touting a diet pill that is a normal size when one takes it, but it expands up to 100 times its original size when taken with a 16 ounce glass of water before a meal. This is to give the one who takes it the exaggerated feeling of being full. Then the pill eventually reduces in size afterwards. Some are calling it the answer for those who are severely overweight but who have a harder time cutting back how much they eat.
Ours is an age prone to offer easy alternatives to what the Bible calls self-control (2 Pe. 1:6). This word is defined as “‘to hold oneself in,’ ‘to command oneself,’ ‘to be a chief of oneself,’ ‘to make one’s heart be obedient,’ ‘to command one’s own desires,’ ‘to be the master of what one wants,’ or ‘to say No to one’s body'” (Louw & Nida, np). Few of us excel at this all the time, but the Holy Spirit through His inspired writers call it a characteristic of the sanctified. Paul preached it to individuals like Felix (Ac. 24:25) and to congregations like Corinth (1 Co. 9:25). Perhaps some limit their understanding of “self-control” to sexual matters. While that is certainly an important area, all passions and desires must be kept in check. Paul told Galatia, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (5:24).
That applies to diet and exercise as surely as it does tobacco, alcohol, and various lusts. If one looks to a pill as a substitute for portion control and healthy food choices, he or she is bypassing the exertion of a trait that is supposed to be a sign of faithful Christian living. How many of God’s people have eaten themselves into health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and the like? It is often easier to excuse our unhealthy lifestyle by pointing to stress, heredity, metabolism, or busyness than to exert the necessary discipline needed for us to better care for our bodies.
Some of us may have to work harder at this than others thanks to genetics, age, or the other factors just mentioned, but that is what self-control is all about. It is about exerting the effort required to master our wants and say no to our bodies.
This may be an unpopular subject to address, but in our ever-expanding society that has eaten its way into weight problems and obesity God’s people are to lead by example. That means demonstrating self-control not only by what comes out of our mouths or from our deeds, but by what we put into our bodies. We don’t do that by taking a pill, but instead by exerting our will.