Created In His Image Day 5: Body Image
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30, ESV).
Have you ever looked in a mirror and immediately felt discouraged? Have you ever seen a picture of yourself and wanted it burned, never to be seen again? I think every one of us has felt that way at some point, and if you haven’t, maybe you should be the one writing this.
I, for one, am in no way qualified to write about a topic like “body image.” I’ve struggled with it and still sometimes do. But by God’s grace, I have learned some things that have renewed my focus and perspective.
While I don’t want to be insensitive in what I say, I do want to be pointed: the struggle of body image is not worth our time. That doesn’t mean that the Lord doesn’t care about our struggles with body image—of course He cares. In fact, if there is one thing that should be abundantly clear it’s that the Lord loves you and cares for you more than anyone else ever could.
But the purpose for our lives is so much more important than the way we look. Too often, our focus on “body image” becomes obsession and fixation on what truly, in the light of eternity, does not matter. So let’s remember this:
Your worth has nothing to do with what your body looks like. Christ gave His life for you—that’s how you know you’re worth something.
Before we discuss this more, though, let’s get one thing straight: God does care how we treat our bodies. The Bible tells us that, as Christians, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and it even says that there is value in physical training/exercise (1 Timothy 4:8). While these verses, in their context, are not directly talking about health and exercise, the principles still apply.
Each of us should take care of our body: nourish it with healthy food, resist gluttony, drink water, move every day, be productive, work hard, make time for rest and good sleep… These things do matter.
In fact, these things are really all that matter about our physical bodies—not our “body image.” If, as a good steward of your body, you are doing all of those things and still don’t like the way you look, it may be time for a perspective change.
But maybe you are doing those things and you still struggle with the way you look because you compare yourself to others. In a world where people overwhelmingly share every detail of their lives on social media, it’s so easy to do. But let’s remember this: “comparison is the thief of joy.” A cliché? Probably. But true? Yes—without a doubt. Comparing ourselves to others in any way robs us of the joy and contentment that is found only in God and His goodness to us.
So even if comparison is our issue, the point is that we need to change our focus:
Instead of self-centered hatred or disappointment, we must choose God-centered gratitude. This is where true freedom is found.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about this. A verse that is often used in the context of “body image” is Psalm 139:14: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.”
I’ve seen this verse used many times to encourage people who are struggling with the way they look. Don’t get me wrong; it is a comfort to know that God handcrafted each of us to have the features, shapes, and characteristics that we do. It’s incredible to think of how creative our God is!
But I want to challenge you to really assess David’s (the author) focus in Psalm 139. When you look at his attitude throughout the entire psalm, it’s very clear that his focus is not on himself at all—it’s wholly on God. It’s not about praising who he is as a person, but instead about praising the awesomeness and holiness of God.
In that lies the answer to the struggle of body image: it’s not about us. In fact, most of the verses we use to self-edify really aren’t about us either because in actuality, our lives are not about us. They are about Christ.
So freedom in our body image will not come from “self-acceptance” or “loving our bodies” —those are fake promises the world offers. Freedom will only come from gratitude to the One who intentionally created you and, most of all, who gave His Son to save you.
Let’s look at a couple more verses that can help realign our focus on what truly matters:
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain … Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:21, 27).
“He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
We need to stop focusing so much on ourselves. We need to thank God not only for the body but for the life He’s given each of us. Most of all, we need to thank Him for the eternal life He provided in Jesus. Let’s take care of our bodies, and leave it at that. The less we focus on ourselves, the happier we’ll be and the more we’ll become like the Lord Jesus. That’s all that really matters.