Most people are familiar with the phrase “you are what you eat.” It is usually said as a reminder that the food we eat will affect our physical bodies. The first mention of the phrase “you are what you eat” came from the 1826 work The Physiology of Taste, in which French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” And while I still love a good cheeseburger, I do know that it is not wise to eat one a day as a regular part of my diet. Many of us realize that we should eat better. Having the discipline to do so, however, is another thing. When I see the golden arches of McDonald’s, I find myself craving an order of fries. So, there is some truth in the phrase, “you are what you eat.”
In the book of the prophet Jeremiah, the prophet seeks to call the people back to their covenant with God. The people of Israel had a way of forgetting God as the centerpiece of their lives, and often wandered away and sought and worshiped other gods. They knew that their spiritual health needed God as the main entree, but they often went for spiritual junk food. Thus, Jeremiah similarly reminded the people, “you are what you eat.” In Jeremiah 2: 5 we read these words, ” they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves.” Jeremiah realized that when something other than God became the center of the people’s lives, then their lives would be formed and shaped by whatever that was. Indeed, what we value most in life, often determines the kind of life that we live. For Jeremiah, a devotion to something worthless leads to worthless living.
Chronologically, we are a long way away from the day of Jeremiah, but our devotions have not changed too much. We still tend to seek meaning, purpose, and joy from things that cannot ultimately provide it. We still seek out other gods to give us our identity, value, and direction whether it be wealth and possessions, sexual pleasures, power, and prestige, or whatever we make room for on the throne of our hearts. Jesus would speak this same truth in Matthew 6: 19-21,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
While we should all be concerned about the health of our physical hearts and how the food we eat affects them, we should also spend some time examining the spiritual diet of our lives and what is that we consume the most in our lives? Whatever we treasure most in our hearts will shape our hearts. Whatever shapes our hearts will determine the kind of lives that we live.
I would be dishonest to say that I always get it right. It doesn’t take too long daily to find something else sliding into the place where God should be in my life. Like the people of Israel in Jeremiah’s day, I am prone to wander after worthless things. It is only by God’s grace in Jesus that I can find my way back to the One that can ultimately give me the life we all hunger for.