Spiritual Health

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Doctor of Medicine

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2).

What if our physical health mirrored our spiritual health? If our bodies reflected the state of our souls, what kinds of maladies would we have? How healthy would we be? To be clear, this is not the way our physical health works. Jesus debunked the myth that physical illness is necessarily due to sin (Jn 9:1-3). Nevertheless the Bible often uses the images of physical health in order to illustrate spiritual health.

Would I be nearsighted or blind? After listing many spiritually healthy characteristics such as faith, knowledge, godliness, and love, Peter says, “for whoever lacks these qualities is so short-sighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Pet 1:9). When we ignore the pursuit of righteousness in favor of pursuing the world, we are so nearsighted that we are blind. John explains that the harboring of toxic emotions like hate in our hearts darkens our walk with God and blinds our eyes (1 Jn 2:11).

Would I be on my deathbed? In 1 Cor 11, Paul explains the necessity of self-examination as we observe the Lord’s Supper (v28). When we neglect this self-examination, we become spiritually weakened: “that is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (v30). When Jesus evaluated the spiritual health of the church at Sardis He announced, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3:1b). The Sardinians put on the appearance of health and soundness, but they were dead men walking.

Or would I be strong and healthy? More than once, Paul used the images of athletes and exercise to illustrate good spiritual health. Paul spoke of the physical discipline, self-control, and focus of the boxer and runner (1 Cor 9:24-27). He equated the daily training necessary to stay in shape to the daily exercise of discipleship—with one important distinction: “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim 4:8).

What if my physical health mirrored my spiritual health? Would I be blind because I have focused my eyes on the wrong things? Would I be starving due to lack of nourishment from the Bread of Life? Would I be sickly, rotten, and decaying because of the sin in my life? Or would I be strong and healthy, having been properly nourished and exercised by the things of God?