A recent report indicates that Oklahoma ranks ninth in the nation for obesity-not exactly the kind of statistic that we desire to hear. Obesity is an extreme health hazard. It often produces physical problems that can be very debilitating and destructive to a normal life. These diseases can also be life-threatening.

I do not know all the causes of obesity, but it is readily apparent that one major cause is excessive intake of food. A second cause is a lack of physical exercise that would allow the body to burn away the calories consumed.

It seems that dedicated church-goers have a tendency toward obesity. I personally have never met a Baptist who would pass up a fellowship dinner. We love fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. And who ignores the dessert table at a dinner on the grounds? Baptists may have our failures, but eating is not one of them. We lead the world in producing over-the-top fellowship dinners!

I am afraid that too many of us have the same problem spiritually. Our lives are filled with consuming spiritual food. We relish the preaching and teaching of the Word. This is how it should be. We listen to preaching on the radio and watch it on television. We sit in Bible studies and partake of large quantities of spiritual food.

But our souls grow fatter because we lack spiritual exercise. Our heads and hearts are full of truth, but we store it up instead of utilizing it. Instead of serving, we seek more study. We contend that we need to know more before exercising. We strive to be first in the Kingdom in knowledge, but we wind up last in service.

Please do not miss my point. I am not against learning the truth of Scripture. We ought to love hearing the truth of God’s Word. But James was right when he called on us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

Too often we are faced with examples of people who knew the Word, but refused to live it. Their knowledge made them spiritually obese-all knowledge but no application.

But I am not speaking only of a moral application. Jesus talked about spiritual exercise when He told the disciples who sought to be first in His Kingdom to serve others. Serving places us at the head of the line.

Too many of us continue to grow more obese because we have not found a place of service. We are familiar with our pew, but not a trowel. We miss the joy of exercising our faith through serving others. Some of the happiest people I know are those who serve others. They are people who serve on mud-out crews, feeding units or chainsaw gangs for disaster relief. They stand in serving lines at rescue missions or visit the elderly in nursing homes. They exercise their faith. They are lean, mean, serving machines.

Spiritually obese? You don’t need to diet and stop consuming spiritual food. You need to serve. It is a simple and fast cure for obesity.