Note: This is part one of a four-part series.
"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well" (3 John 2, MEV).
We were designed to be healthy under most circumstances. The statement, "as your soul does prosper" reminds us that spiritual prosperity (our relationship with God) is first and foremost; it is fundamental to our overall health. In short, we can't experience full health and vitality without also considering the health of our souls as our main priority.
As stated in a past article, although I believed I was healthy and fit, by the time I reached my 22nd birthday, my 6-foot, 2-inch frame had skyrocketed to 270 pounds and I was diagnosed with borderline hypoglycemia. My blood pressure and my cholesterol levels were high, my health was rapidly deteriorating. I was told that I might need to take medication for the rest of my life. As a result, I was denied life insurance and was instructed by my physician to "go on a strict diet." I was shocked! I knew that if I didn't change my life, my life would change me!
The physical health of our bodies definitely plays a role in our overall health—mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Taking care of the one body that God has given us is wise stewardship—it affect our entire lives.
Although spiritual health is first and foremost, our physical health also plays a vital role in productivity. According to many experts, many diseases are preventable through proper nutrition and exercise. To suggest that health should not be a priority is to suggest that God isn't concerned with this area.
Between 1992 and 2000, I was an employee, then a manager and finally a corporate executive in Southern California for the fastest growing fitness company in the world at that time, 24 Hour Fitness. I managed fitness centers and personal training departments while assisting and interviewing thousands of weight-loss clients. As a result, I identified a consistent pattern that surfaced time and time again: Those who were fit rarely, if ever, referred to "dieting," while those trying to lose weight often referred to being on a "diet."
Those who were fit, whether they knew it or not, often followed a biblical plan; they didn't diet. I applied these principles in overcoming my own health and weight-loss challenge.
During this time in the health and fitness industry, God radically changed my life. While I had focused on prosperity, wealth, and success, I had starved my soul. I tried everything that the world had to offer, but ultimately, I found that it offered little of lasting value. God used this time to bring the prodigal son home. I resigned from my position in 2000 and began working on my first book, What Works When "Diets" Don't.
Although my theological foundation was still developing (I would definitely reword and/or delete some of the content in my first few books), this book was a very helpful resource for those seeking optimal health. I will cover some of that information in these articles because I believe that physical health often runs parallel with spiritual health. It should never be our primary focus—spiritual health is vitally more important (1 Tim. 4:8). But physical health should not be overlooked. When we are healthy and energetic, we are 10 times more effective, but when we are sluggish and overweight, energy is diminished, not to mention the impact that our lifestyle has on our children.
I'm deeply saddened by the number of people who neglect their health as if it doesn't matter to God. Life is a gift; our body is the only place we have to live. Although we've discussed the health of our spirit and soul in most of the articles, little has been said about our physical health; therefore, it's time to shift gears.
It's ironic ... we have more fitness centers, more personal trainers, more books and more articles written about fitness than ever before, yet health-related illnesses and problems caused from poor nutrition and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate. We pray for healing, but often neglect the primary cause of disease—poor health. It reminds me of the man who prayed, "Lord, please increase my finances ... my debt is killing me," as he headed to Las Vegas with his weekly check.
Granted, I don't believe that everyone will be healthy and wealthy. We live in a very sinful world that often results in disease and sickness. God sometimes uses pain, sickness, disease, and suffering to draw us closer to Him; however, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater and totally dismiss physical health.
Obesity and poor health zaps energy and robs from life. Poor nutrition affects us negatively in several different ways. High levels of caffeine or nicotine, for example, lead to irritation, anger, impatience and anxiety ... not good qualities to possess. They are the exact opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
As a side note, the majority of people I've counseled who damage their family through anger are often addicted to caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, drugs or a similar substance. Clearly, health plays a vital role in our overall attitude. When we feed the body what it needs, it will run better.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his seventh book, Desperate for More of God. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.
For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.
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