Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
3 John 1:2
While the rest of the world seems to have gone crazy about healthy living and longevity, the church seems to have been absent entirely from this movement. The Hindus boast Yoga, the Buddhist boast Shaolin Kungfu, the Taoists boast Taichi and Qigong, Christians have taken the stand that spiritual health is more important than physical health (1 Timothy 4:8). I’m not saying that we are inferior or that we need to learn from them, but I do feel like something is missing somewhere.
I do know that there are books such as “What would Jesus eat?” or “The Bible Diet” but I have never heard any preacher stand on the pulpit and say that God wants us to eat right, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps we feel that it would condemn those in the congregation who are more horizontally gifted, or that the congregation will see it as vanity and glorifying the carnal/flesh, or trying to obtain our own version of eternal life – longevity. Afterall, it is no secret that living healthy does extend your life. God is not shy in saying that longevity is much desired and considered a blessing (Exodus 23:25-26; Deuteronomy 5:33; Psalm 91:6; Proverbs 3:1-2).
So what is the problem here? The problem is that our spiritual health is not opposed to our physical health. In fact, the more healthy we get spiritually, the more healthy we desire to get physically and the more we desire longevity. Our spiritual health is complementary to our physical health and in more ways than one.
1. Our spiritual health is linked to our physical health supernaturally
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty…
You will come to the grave in full vigor,
like sheaves gathered in season.
Job 5:17, 26
By God’s grand design, good health is a supernatural blessing from God. He is the provider of physical health, not just healing, but health and strength. The Old Testament talks about how fearing the Lord and following His commands will reap the benefit of good health (perhaps because some of the Law deals with hygiene). How that works exactly, I don’t know. But the bible says it does – its supernatural. In the New Testament, a Christian knows that Christ has fufilled the Law on our behalf and thus we expect to reap the benefit of health. It is simply a supernatural effect of accepting Christ.
Note: This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will never get sick, fall ill or die, I said we expect. Meaning, while our attitude is that we expect good health, we do not deceive ourselves; we also understand that our flesh is constantly dying.
2. Our spiritual health is linked to our physical health naturally
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (See also Psalm 24:1)
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
1 Corinthians 4:2
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Lets face it, our bodies are not our own. God has full ownership over our bodies by means of creation and redemption. He even owns the copyright, what we see in the mirror is the image of His body. The more we grow in spiritual health, the more we understand that we are to be good stewards of all that we have, that includes our physical body. We are all familiar with the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We are also familiar with the Parable of the Shrewed Manager (Luke 16:1-9) – who used what he had now to prepare for what is to come. Should we not take care of His image as best we can?
Consider the importance of our life (and it’s longevity), it is the first gift to each individual even before he or she is capable of understanding the gift of eternal life in Christ. The living has hope (Ecclesiastes 9:4-6) and has the ability to save souls (Luke 16:19-31), the dead on the other hand has neither. God places a very high premium on human life, there is no equal to human life (Leviticus 24:17). Now if life is so important to God and we want to serve Him effectively for all of our days on earth, why are we trying (consciously or unconsciously) to shorten our life with our lifestyle?
The writing is on the wall, if we sow an unhealthy lifestyle, we reap a short life. It is a natural consequence. If we constantly eat foods that are bad for us and refuse to take care of our bodies with exercise and rest, we reap illnesses that will hinder our effectiveness in ministry.
I preach to myself when I say these things because I am as guilty as anyone else for not taking proper care of this great gift from God. Now, I must prove myself faithful to this health and life I have been given.
The hardest question I suppose is what we intend to do about it. Here are 3 things that we can do right now:
- Eat right (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Exercise moderately (Proverbs 31:17; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
- Rest well (Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 6:32; John 4:5-6)
- Do it all with someone else (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
If it is difficult to get started, get someone to go along with you. If you have difficulty getting someone started, ask them to go along with you. My father is a very wise man, when he wants my mum to get some exercise, he doesn’t scream at her to go walking, he says, “I’m going for a stroll, come with me please?” and he makes it an enjoyable experience by holding her hand, walking around nice places, sometimes even buying a little snack that they can eat when they’ve finished their stroll. Works everytime.