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How to Be a Healthy Christian – Chapter 3

By Richard W. De Haan

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

3 Prescription for Mental Health

Every believer should have peace and satisfaction that enables him to handle the pains, the sorrows, the stresses, and the uncertainties of life. In actuality, however, many of God’s children are troubled, confused, fearful, dissatisfied, and unhappy.

This lesson will prescribe five ingredients for mental and emotional health:

  • A Committed Life
  • A Joyous Spirit
  • A Grateful Heart
  • A Clean Mind
  • A Clear Conscience

A Committed Life

As a Christian, you must make the Lord the object of your love. You must be determined to do His will – that must be your supreme desire. You must be surrendered fully to the Heavenly Father.

In his farewell message, Joshua reminded the children of Israel of the Lord’s gracious provision for their needs. He challenged them with these words:

Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods that your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!

And if it seems evil for you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Just before Joshua died, he called on the Israelites to put away te false gods their fathers had worshiped and to give their allegiance to Jehovah. – Joshua and his family had already made their choice – to serve the Lord.

The apostle John, the spokesman of the Lord, had issued this severe rebuke to the church at Laodicea:

I now know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot..

So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:15, 15 ).

He went on to indicate that their half-heartedness had made them “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (v17).

The apostle Paul made this appeal in Romans 12:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed with the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of god (Romans 12:1,2)

Believers who fail to make a positive commitment to the Lord – those who try to live for the Lord and for the world at the same time – will never experience true peace or lasting satisfaction. A Christian simply cannot remain neutral;, with one ear tuned to Christ and the other to world. If he does, he will surely go downhill both morally and spiritually..

The non-committal believer will gradually adopt the thought patterns of the ungodly. He will become increasingly worldly in lifestyle. He will start thinking like the secular humanists. As the moral absolutes taught in the Bible become less of a force in his life, he will become more permissive. The groundwork will be laid for easygoing attitude toward sinful practices. Before he knows it, those very things will creep into his own life. He will join the thousands of compromising Christians who have made a mess of their lives and who are now plagued and tormented by the consequences.

Many thousands of believers will testify that because they wandered away from the Lord, they continue to pay a price for their disobedience. And if they returned to the Lord, confessed their sins, and experienced His forgiveness, they would be thankful for their restoration. Nevertheless, the consequences of their past sins will continue to plague them. They would have learned the truth of these verses:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7.8).

The second ingredient in the prescription for mental and emotional health is:

A Joyous Spirit

The author of Proverbs wrote:

A merry heart does good, like medicine ( Proverbs 17:22).

The apostle Paul exhorts us to:

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).

The Lord surely wants his children to be joyful. But you may ask, “How can person be joyful when everything is gong wrong? How can a person rejoice when his child is dying in the hospital? How can a man be cheerful when he’s crippled with arthritis?

The answers to these questions can bee found in recognizing that we are not talking about a superficial feeling. We’re not speaking of a happiness that is dependent on things, physical health, or people. We are thinking of a deep, underlying joy derived from an implicit trust in the Lord. The Child of God who has a absolute confidence in His love and an awareness of His sovereign power and perfect wisdom can rejoice in spite of the circumstances.

Yes, we can have joy, peace, and satisfaction even in those dark and difficult passages of life, if we believe the this verse:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 ).

The time to cultivate a joyful spirit is before major calamities strike. We must learn to make our minor disappointments stepping-stones to a close walk with the Lord. As we accept the little sorrows and problems of life with a proper attitude, we will develop a joyful spirit. Then, if a major tragedy should strike, that will help to give us a song in the night.

The third ingredient for a mental and emotional health is:

A Grateful Heart

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said:

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord.

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19, 20).

Henry Jowett spoke of gratitude as a vaccine and an antitoxin. As a vaccine, it prevents the invasion of a disgruntled attitude. The believer who is thankful for the blessings of God, when things are going well is building on one of the best defenses against complaining and bitterness when things go bad.

It may well be a grateful spirit that enabled Job to say, in spite of his great loss,

The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:;21 ).

Later on, after losing his health and hearing his wife suggest that he :curse god and die”, he said,

Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? (Job 2:10)

Yes, a grateful heart can inoculate us against becoming grumpy malcontents when things don’t go the way we think they should.

Jowett spoke of gratitude not only as a vaccine but also as an antitoxin. It destroys the poison of a criticism fault-finding attitude. Thankful people don’t become envious. They don’t resent it when someone else has advanced or blessed beyond themselves. They marvel instead at God’s love and goodness to them, and they rejoice in it. A grateful heart is truly a joyful heart.

The fourth ingredient for mental and emotional health is:

A Clean Mind

It has been said that we are what we eat. This applies to the mental as well as the physical area of our beings. We must be careful what our minds feed upon

The public today is being bombarded with impurity, violence, and every form of wickedness. Pornography had become big business. Even some books produced for school children glorify sexual permissiveness and encourage perverse fantasies. We are told that preoccupation with thoughts about fornication , adultery and sexual perversion is a harmless pastime. But nothing could be further from the truth! We must meditate on the Word of God and judge those lustful thoughts as soon s they present themselves. Here’s an excellent advice from Paul:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8).

A clean mind is an indispensable element in the formula for good mental and emotional health. Therefore, keep evil out of your mind. Watch your mental diet. Reflect only on what promotes pure thoughts.

The fifth ingredient in mental and emotional well-being is:

A Clear Conscience

Just exactly what is conscience? W. E. Vine in his Expository Dictionary of New testament words, had this to say about the word ”conscience’ as used in the New testament. Literally, a knowing with, i.e. co-knowledge (with oneself), the witness borne to one’s conduct by conscience, that faculty by which we apprehend the work of God as that which is (a) The sense of guiltiness before God: Hebrews 10:2 (b) that process of thought which distinguishes what it considers morally good or bad, commending the good, condemning the bad, and so prompting to do the former, and avoid the latter.”

The apostle Paul, in making his defense before felix, gave us a wonderful example to follow in the matter of maintaining a good conscience. He said:

I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men (Acts 24:26).

Having a conscience without offense is one of the highest possible goals to which a believer can commit himself. It’s important not only because fit’s pleasing to God but also because it’s so essential to enjoying mental and emotional health at it’s very best. A person who deliberately disobeys the instructions of God’s words or ignores his conscience will bear a weight of guilt that will rob him of the peace and joy that could and should be his.

So when that persistent, still, small voice within speaks, we’d better listen! Let’s not sin by going against it. May our aim be like Paul’s when he said, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men: (Acts 24:16).

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