Selling Health Supplements|
Q. I badly need extra money for my family. So do you think it is wrong for Christians to work part time buying and selling health food supplements on Christian T.V., radio, magazines, at church and to neighbors?
Using Church as a Forum for Personal Gain?
This is a sensitive question because we know many people who earn a part time living selling health and beauty supplements and gym products to friends and church members. We do question using church as a forum for selling products for personal gain, however.
Sellers of these products often claim God commands us to treat the body as the Holy Temple. In context those verses have to do with avoiding sexual immorality. They have nothing to do with beautifying and pampering one's physical body.
But, let me just say this: Selling health products isn't wrong by itself. However, when it replaces the gospel message of the person and redemptive work of Christ - and becomes an obsession - it is very wrong.
In fact, it becomes an idol - An idol is anything that replaces the gospel with itself and supercedes reliance and trust in God. Therefore it is totally inappropriate to sell health food supplements at church.
T.V. Ministries Turned into Infomercials
Here are other examples of inappropriate times to sell health products. I enjoy John Hagee's preaching from time to time. But, there have been days on end when he has "preached" nothing but one particular man's book on diet and exercise.
We appreciate Joyce Meyer's insights concerning difficult interpersonal relationships as it relates to Scripture. Yet, she, too, has occasionally focused on health, beauty and material wealth to the exclusion of sound biblical teaching.
Even Jim Robison who has a dynamic ministry to starving children has at times focused upon selling health food supplements.
(I must admit, however, that these selling venues don't bother me as much if the seller honestly proclaims that buying a product directly helps to support a ministry).
Satan Gleefully Laughs
I understand that this is one way for television ministries to raise funds to support their ministries. However, the list of ministries becoming disguised infomercials goes on and on.
I wonder what unbelievers think when they turn on Christian television programming and watch infomercials on diet and exercise programs instead of the gospel? Christian radio programming suffers the same thing.
Surely Satan laughs with glee! The air waves are filled with the sounds of physical-narcissism on the weekends. Yet, this is the very time unbelievers might tune in to Christian television and radio. What a waste!
Cults Emphasize Diets
Have you ever noticed that many of the strongest cults are obsessed with diet and exercise as a part of their belief systems? Is this just a coincidence? Or do the dark forces of evil work overtime to entrap believers in a world of diets, exercise programs, riches and self-image? I think we need to think carefully about this.
Scriptures Used to Promote Health Fetishes
As mentioned at the start the Scriptures used most often to support a possible idolatrous fetish with health products are these:
"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
This passage is found in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:19.
We already mentioned that the two verses listed above have to do with abstaining from sexual immorality and idolatry. It is a warning to Christians to remain separate from the world. It is not about health foods, supplements, or exercise.
This misinterpretation is given so often that we adivse you to make special note of it.
Godly Living - not Treadmill Living
1 Timothy 4:8 tells us, "bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
John MacArthur comments that "bodily exercise is limited both in extent and duration. It affects only the physical body during this earthly life" whereas "spiritual discipline is a path to godly living."
Godly living should be a Christian's goal - not treadmill living.
All Die Regardless of Healthful Living
I have news for those who think otherwise: we will all die! Guaranteed…no matter how many hundreds of dollars we spend on health supplements or exercise gyms, we will all die (unless the Lord "beams us up" first - 1 Thess. 4:17).
Overcoming Bodily Impulses
The Apostle Paul proclaims, "I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27, ESV).
Again MacArthur says that "Paul knocked out bodily impulses to keep them from preventing him from his mission of winning souls to Christ" (MacArthur 1997, 1743).
Filth of the World
Finally, in contrast Paul says, "we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we endure, being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the off scouring of all things until now…Therefore I urge you, imitate me…" (1 Cor. 4:11-17, NKJV).
In other words Paul is admitting that he is:
-living in hunger
-doesn't have nice clothes
-He is beaten
-He is homeless
-Works at hard jobs
-He is insulted and persecuted
-His image is tarnished
-Bad things are said about him
Think of it! How do we reconcile this with Christians obsessing over their health, beauty or wealth?
Here is a man who considers himself lower middle-class stock even though he studied under topnotch teachers and had our equivalent of a fancy Ph.D. degree. He is homeless. And he certainly doesn't aim for high self-esteem! No. His aim is to bless his persecutors, endure hard circumstances, and to preach the gospel even though it makes him appear foolish.
Fools for Christ
Clearly Paul is not telling us to spend hundreds of dollars monthly on health supplements, spas or gyms. Rather, he is asking us to imitate him in his fervent desire to preach the gospel. He says, "we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake" (1 Cor. 4:9-10).
I suggest that Christians put aside misunderstandings and misinterpretations once and for all. Disciplining the body is fine up to a point - as it helps us to have the strength to preach the gospel. Moderation in food and drink and discipline of the body and our lifestyle is a good thing. However, beyond that it is useless.
Please keep it in perspective - let's attempt to keep healthy to enable us to do the work God wants us to do. But, let's focus our lives upon those things which God tells us are important. Let's not succumb to those things the world finds important. Our lives beong to God instead.
Benware, Paul. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV. 1997. Nashville, TN: Nelson.