This article will appeared in The Sheridan Press as a part of a series on health in 2021.
What comes to mind when you think of spiritual health? As with physical health, we tend to think of inward activities – prayer, meditation, devotion, and the like. We would do well to prioritize these inward-focused disciplines. However, spiritual health also involves being outward focused.
As a Christian, I can’t ignore all that Jesus and the Bible said about being outward focused. The Bible instructs believers to consider others above oneself. Here are a few examples: “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10). “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13). “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18). And a final example from Jesus, who so plainly and directly said, “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17).
The reason we should develop inward-focused health is so we can have an outward-focused impact on the world around us. What good is it to know all of Scripture if those around you have never heard it before? What good is it to amass great wealth if it perishes at the end of your life? What good is salt if it has lost its flavor? You were created to be in relationship with the Father and to love others.
Not long before the crucifixion of Jesus, some religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with a question, “What is the most important commandment?” Jesus replied with two commands that are intricately woven together and inseparable. Quoting the Old Testament, he said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Spiritual health in the first century – and now in the twenty-first century – must center on these two commands. Love the Lord and love others.
With these principles in mind, here are three simple steps to improve your spiritual health:
- Be disciplined in your personal habits. Prayer. Mediation. Study. Take care of yourself and cultivate your faith. You won’t have much to share if you don’t have much. And yet, whether you have little or much, you can still be a blessing to others.
- Take small steps. In most cases, the smallest actions have the biggest impact. Be alert to opportunities to serve others. Help a neighbor with a chore. Pick up the tab for someone’s lunch. Collect the trash left behind or blown by the wind. The sum of these small actions will literally change the world.
- Focus on people. If the best of actions are completed in a vacuum, there is no point. I’m all for anonymous kindness, but that kindness should be directed to real-life people. Use whatever resources, talents, and abilities you have to minister (a word that means “to serve”) others. If you are having trouble identifying who to help, extend a hand to those closest to you.
In conclusion and in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)