by Bill Rudge
Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” He developed a balanced life. As believers we, too, should live a balanced life. God cares about our total well being.
Physically, our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and should be “living sacrifices”—totally committed to the Lord in every aspect for His honor and glory. Mentally, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds—thinking about and dwelling on that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and praiseworthy. Emotionally, we must not allow negative and destructive feelings such as worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness, hate, revenge, greed, impatience and pride to dominate our lives. Instead, they must be replaced with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Spiritually, we are created in God’s image and are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, filled with and walking in the Spirit.
…May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
The most important principle of health is to “Fear [reverence] the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:7, 8). Seek Him daily—preferably first thing in the morning. Find wisdom and strength for your day and your life in His Word and by His Spirit.
Do Not Neglect the Physical
Many Christians believe that exercise is of little value. They base their opinion, in part, on the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). When I was a new Christian and thought I would have to give up working out after reading 1 Timothy 4:8, a wise minister said to me, “The little that physical exercise does profit is very important, and not to be neglected.” Exercise is like tires on a car—small in comparison to the rest of the vehicle, but crucially important.
From the age of 12 (1965) when I was in the seventh grade, I have been involved in some type of exercise regimen (except for the brief period just mentioned). My current fitness routine often begins about 5:30 a.m., and after Bible study and prayer, I workout 30 to 60 minutes, four to six days a week. I also get exercise from outside work at the ministry center, as well as pushing grandchildren around in wheelbarrows or pulling them in wagons on “adventures” through “secret” trails in nearby fields and woods.
Bodily exercise and nutrition have temporal profit and are not to be neglected, but knowing Jesus Christ and His Word have eternal benefits! Paul counseled Timothy that godliness promises benefits for this present life and for the life to come; so I spend the majority of my time (approximately 40 – 60 hours a week) in Bible study, prayer and ministry and a minority of my time (about 4 – 6 hours a week) exercising and working out. The simple biblical principle that has proven to be of immense value in bringing balance to me is: “Focus on the spiritual while not neglecting the physical.” Since my priority has been making certain my “soul prospers,” the Lord has blessed me in many ways and given me abounding energy to accomplish the vision He placed in my heart. My prosperity is not in material wealth, but in His peace and joy that transcend life’s circumstances.
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones (Proverbs 14:30). A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
Like an athlete preparing for his next contest, I discipline myself and am constantly training (exercising, eating nutritionally, fasting, praying, studying Scripture and so on) to be a more effective witness for Christ, to better handle the daily stresses of life, to be able to fulfill an oftentimes rigorous ministry schedule, to be prepared for the rigors of my next mission adventure and to participate in physical activities with my grandchildren. My goal is to have the health and vitality to fulfill God’s purpose and finish the race He has called me to run.
You Have a Choice
Since the psalmist declared, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it” (Psalm 139:14), why are so many Christians sick and not walking in health? In many cases it is because we violate biblical principles: we lack self-control; have poor health habits; neglect proper exercise and sleep; have unresolved stress issues; overwork or are lazy; expose ourselves to dangerous chemicals, pollutants or too much sun. We allow negative emotions such as jealousy, anger and bitterness to dominate our lives. Time is the great equalizer; one day we will pay for our poor choices. Just remember, the farther you walk down the road of bad health habits, the longer the walk back towards better health.
Romans chapter 14 and other Scriptures make it clear that we have the freedom to eat whatever we want without endangering our relationship with Jesus Christ or our eternal destiny. Nevertheless, wisdom, spread throughout the pages of the Bible, reveals the importance of avoiding gluttony and other destructive indulgences. The choices we make and the things we do impact the length and quality of our lives:
• How do you handle relationships, financial and job stress?
• What foods do you consume?
• Are you exposed to environmental pollutants?
• Do you exercise or not?
• What is your decision on the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs?
• Do you engage in immoral behavior?
• Do you allow anger, bitterness, despair and feelings of hopelessness to rule your thoughts and emotions or do you choose love, forgiveness, peace and joy?
The fallout from these choices accumulate over time and determine the kind of life you will live, and even when and how you will die.
Considering the toxicity of our bodies, minds and spirits, the fact that we live in relatively good health for as long as we do is a testimony of how wonderfully we are made.
Optimum health is dependent on each person’s circumstances. It is taking whatever your situation and limitations are and seeking, with God’s help, to improve wherever you can. Some of you may have irreversible injuries or genetic disabilities to deal with. However, we still can choose to trust and honor God and seek, as far as possible, to implement His biblical health principles.
Greater Health through Biblical Principles
From personal experience and studying health and fitness for decades, I am convinced that Scripture contains superior principles for obtaining maximal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and the pages of our Bible divulge the ultimate way to gain health in this life, as well as the next! As believers in Christ, we await the blessed hope of the transformation of our physical bodies at the Lord’s return (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57; Philippians 3:20-21).
Do not settle for imitation or inferior health and healing techniques which could compromise your biblical convictions or seduce you from a pure devotion to Christ. Instead, walk in harmony with, and in obedience to, God’s natural health laws and biblical principles. You will achieve your inherent optimal health, living a better quality of life with increased energy to accomplish His will and be a more effective witness for Jesus Christ! When the world sees how your faith in Christ positively effects every dimension of your life, many will want to know the Christ you represent.
Remember, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As stewards of the amazing bodies, minds and spirits God has given us, we are responsible to establish balance by seeking to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fit!
Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ which is being updated and expanded for its fourth printed edition and E-book.