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How to Be a Healthy Christian – Chapter 2

By Richard W. De Haan

[ Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4]

2 Requirements for Spiritual Health

In spite of the tremendous advances in medical science, a large portion of the population around the world is chronically ill. People spend a lot of money on health foods and vitamins because they want to be healthy. Yet, many people die before they reach the age of 70. Why? Some people have physical problems for which they have no control. But a number are in bad health because of non-physical factors such as anxiety neurosis.

The Greek philosopher, Plato, criticized the physicians of his day for taking care of the body but forgetting about the soul. He said, “Many diseases escape them because they never see the whole.” The 19th Century author Nathanael Hawthorne declared, “A bodily disease which we look upon as a whole and entire in itself, may after all be but the symptom of some ailment in the spiritual part.” Yes, good health involves the soul, the mind, and the body – the whole person.

Let’s take a closer look at the “spiritual part” of man. This should be the starting point to good health. A person who knows the Lord and who is living in fellowship with Him has a special advantage. As a spiritually healthy Christian, he enjoys certain benefits that have an impact for the good on the mental, emotional, and even the physical element of his being. To be spiritually healthy, a Christian therefore, must follow definite guidelines:

  • Read God’s Word
  • Talk to the Lord
  • Identify with a church
  • Be Active in Service

Read God’s Word

People who trust Christ for salvation are born again. As newborn “babes”, they need to grow. They need the proper spiritual nourishment that comes through feasting on the truths of the word of God.

Good nutrition is of great importance to the good health of our physical bodies – all the way from childhood into the teens, and through the adult years. Just as lack of proteins or vitamins can cause health problems, so a deficiency in spiritual nourishment hinders the well-being of our souls.

In (1 Peter 2: 2,3), we read,

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.:

As babes in Christ grow and develop spiritually, their diet is expected to change. It should begin to include “solid food.”

The apostle Paul scolded the Christians at Corinth by saying:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.

I fed you with m ilk and not with solid food: for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able ( 1 Corinthians 3:1,2).

The author of Hebrews chided believers who were not as mature spiritually as they should have been with these words:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

For anyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:12, 14).

And the psalmist said this:

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word.

With my whole heart I have sought You; O , let me not wander from Your commandments!

Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11).

Bible reading ought to be as much of the diet for your soul as physical food is for your body. It will help you grow in grace. It will give you strength to overcome temptation and to be victorious in times of trial. It will bring you joy and as you comprehend the truths of scriptures and put them into practice, you will experience the spiritual health that God intends for His children.

Talk to the Lord

The need for communication with god on a regular and consistent basis cannot be overemphasized. As we open our hearts, express our feelings, and mention our needs through prayer, we should recognize that we are talking with our Father in heaven.

In human families, mothers and fathers are sometimes responsible for a lack of love and for poor communication in the family circle. But in the family of God, the fault can never be laid on the Heavenly Father. He has proven His love for us in sending the Lord Jesus to be our Savior. And He had assured us of our status as members of His family and heirs with Christ. We are told in the Bible:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father,”

The spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

And if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together ( Romans 8: 14-17 ).

The very fact that we can call the Creator and Sustainer of the universe “Father,” and that He has invited us to talk to Him, should fill us with wonder and gratitude. It should encourage us to take advantage of that wonderful privilege of prayer. The writer of Hebrews gave us this encouraging word:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

James I. Packer had these comments about our privileges as members of God’s family:

“ Do I know my own real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; Heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, anytime when your mind is free and ask that you may be enabled to live as one.”

If we believe all these things, we will want to talk to our Heavenly father – and we’ll do it often. Before we make a decision, we’ll seek His guidance. When our feelings are hurt, we’ll tell Him about it. When we get angry and are tempted to retaliate, we’ll ask for His control. When we pray, God hears. He guides. He helps. Through communion with Him, we will develop a family likeness to the Lord Jesus, our Savior and elder Brother. Yes, prayer is important to your spiritual health.

.The third guideline for spiritual health is this:

Identify With a Church

Yes, every Christian who is able should unite with a Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, Christ-honoring church and be faithful in his attendance and support of it. You will receive spiritual nourishment from the preaching of the .word, You will find opportunities for service. And you will be strengthened through fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The fellowship of the saints is of tremendous importance to our spiritual growth and health. Just as a small child is more likely to be well-adjusted if he has playmates, so a believer makes better spiritual progress if he has contact with and feels the influence of fellow Christians. In the early days of the Church, the people wh accepted Christ expressed their faith through b baptism and identified with other believers in local assembly. The author of Hebrews has this to say:

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24, 25).

The preaching and teaching ministry of the local church, together with the sharing that is at the very heart of fellowship, make the local church an essential ingredient in living the Christian life. So, if you want to be a healthy Christian, identify with a church that truly honors God’s word and exalts Christ. Then attend and support it faithfully.

A fourth guideline for spiritual health is:

Be Active in Service

Working for the Lord is a spiritual exercise. If you are a child of God, you should want to serve Him. The degree of your faithfulness in working for Him will determine to a large extent the quality of your spiritual health.

The majority of God’s people it seems, are spectators. They faithfully attend services. They place their offering in the collection plate. But they don’t really get involved in the work of the church. These “spectator” Christians tend to become negative in their attitudes. They criticize those who are actually doing the work. If you are simply spectator in your church, and if you are failing to “exercise” your abilities for the Lord, you will not be the healthy Christian you ought to be.

A very important element of Christian service of course, is telling others about Christ. The Lord Jesus before His ascension to glory, left His followers with this word:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

This is a wonderful; ministry in which we all have a part as we personally testify to others and as we give ur support to those who are called “to the end of the earth”. However, there is nothing quite like leading a soul to Christ. It will enhance your spiritual health as nothing else can. To see a sinner come to Christ, have his sins forgiven, and find peace with God, and be given a bright hope for the future is to experience a thrill and excitement that goes beyond words to describe, It is one of the best things you can do for your spiritual health.

[ Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 ]