Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
What do you think of when I mention the word ‘health’? What is it that you first think of? For many people the words ‘health’ or ‘exercise’ are very positive things, but not for everybody.
I read recently that our country is facing a bigger problem with obesity than cigarette smoking. People of all ages are overweight, and it’s now a bigger problem than we realise. Many children are carrying too much weight, So, it’s not just an issue for those of us in the older age group. You can read numerous articles about the benefits of right eating and a balanced diet, and getting enough exercise.
Some people think of excuses. Like the man who said, “Every time I think about exercise, I lie down until the thought goes away.” Or what about this one? “I’m not into working out. My philosophy: No pain, no pain.” Those comments are just a fraction of the kind of excuses that people have for not making healthy lifestyle choices. I’m guilty of not being as active as I should be.
Health advice in the Bible
But do you know that the Bible has a lot of things to say about health? Solomon’s Proverbs in the Old Testament, in fact, lead us to some important truths about health: Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are. Simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains”. And Proverbs 12:18 says, “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal”.
And here’s a good one from Proverbs 14:30 (ERV), “Peace of mind makes the body healthy, but jealousy is like a cancer”. What a great reminder that inner peace can help us stay healthy. And I found something in Proverbs 17:22 (GNT): “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time”.
They’re great words, and so sensible, aren’t they? They make sense! It says that God’s wisdom is good for us if we follow it. Positive results, including health, will follow. It means that there is a definite connection between the mind and the body. Mental health and physical health are closely connected to each other, and the Bible reinforces that. Our physical wellbeing is influenced by the choices that we make here in our mind—spiritually, morally and ethically.
It means that there is a definite connection between the mind and the body.
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In his book about the essentials for being highly healthy people, Dr Walt Larimore tells about a young woman who had been a patient of his in his medical practice for several years. She had emotional and relational problems that spilled over into physical distress for her life. He wrote about her, “She was a classic neurotic at the age of fifteen!” Over the years that he had been her doctor, he tried to encourage her to develop some type of spiritual life, even though she didn’t seem to be open to it.
After she left home for college, he didn’t see her or hear from her until he got an email from her. In that message, she told him that she’d been following his advice, in general, on nutrition and exercise and sleep. And, just as importantly, she had begun a personal relationship with God. And this is what she said: “Putting God at the centre of my life has put everything in balance. I feel like a new me!” So her life and her physical health were no longer in distress.
The mind-body connection
Perhaps you’ve heard of Norman Cousins, the well-known author of the book Anatomy of an Illness. Norman was suffering from a painful condition that was regarded as incurable. He discovered, however, that after just 15 minutes of solid belly laughter that he would have two hours of pain-free sleep. And so that became part of his healing therapy. He prescribed laughter for himself. And he went on to experience complete healing. Maybe we don’t laugh enough, and we become tense and nervous too much of the time.
This means that the mind affects the body. But let me ask you a question: Can it work the other way around? If there’s a mind-body connection, and the mind influences the body, can the body affect the mind? In other words, could what goes on in the body affect the ability of our minds to think clearly? I’m sure it is true.
Good health can impact how we think and make us better able to understand God’s Word. So won’t we want to practice a lifestyle that makes our bodies healthy, so that our minds can be in the best shape?
The Bible says our body is like a temple, and God lives in the temple, our body.
Could we pray for good health? The Apostle John did in 3 John 1:2 (NKJV): “May you prosper in all things and be in good health even as your soul prospers”. This is not about money, but all areas of life. The Bible says our body is like a temple, and God lives in the temple, our body. So we should take care of the body, because God lives there. Let’s do all we can to care for ourselves—eat properly and sensibly and get enough rest and exercise.
And importantly, guard your spiritual and physical health. Those are the only real treasures that we have. If we lose those things, all the money in the world cannot help us. So let’s choose to be healthy and wise and be God’s people.