EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) — Everybody knows the principles for maintaining good physical health — nutritious food, exercise, pure water, lay off the junk food, plenty of sleep, healthy and loving relationships — right?
Yet one-third of Americans are now obese and another third are overweight. That means two-thirds of Americans, despite knowing better, are living unhealthy lifestyles.
The same is true for the way many Christians approach keeping their spiritual immune systems in top shape. Most of us know what to do; we just have a hard time putting it into practice. The disciplines of physical and spiritual exercise are equally challenging — and the results of inaction and apathy equally life-threatening.
So, don’t think the list that follows is too “basic” or “common sense.” Read through it carefully and prayerfully, letting the Holy Spirit speak to you about boosting your spiritual immune system.
1. Bible study (2 Peter 1:4)
When troubles in life come, God’s great and precious promises are what keep us from becoming infected with fear and doubt. God’s promises are found in only one place: the Bible. Daily doses of the Word of God are required for continuing spiritual health.
2. Prayer (Philippians 4:6-7)
Prayer is like a healthy dose of vitamin C at the first sign of a cold — the first thing we should do when troubles come. Pray for strength, pray for wisdom, pray for help. And most of all, pray for endurance and faithfulness. In prayer we claim God’s promises.
3. Scripture memory and meditation (Psalm 1:2)
The more we incorporate Scripture into our hearts and minds, the more we think like God. When troubles come, instead of trying to think of a Scripture verse, the Word of God is there because that’s how we think anyway. Take time to dwell on what God says.
4. Clear conscience (Psalm 32:5)
No one who has a guilty conscience — one defiled by unconfessed sin — can be spiritually healthy. Guilt leads to physical complications and it certainly leads to spiritual ill-health. How can we call on God in times of trouble when we harbor sin in our lives?
5. Worship and church attendance (Hebrews 10:24-25)
A healthy human is a worshiping human — but not worshiping just anything. Because we were created by God, we are destined to worship Him. Failure to worship leads to isolation, introspection and infection with the disease of self-centeredness.
6. Service (1 Peter 4:10)
Because we were created to serve, we will only be truly spiritually healthy when we are using our spiritual gift(s) to serve others. If we fail to serve, we atrophy — lose our strength and shrivel up. Discover your gift(s) and stay healthy and strong by serving.
7. Relationships (Proverbs 22:24-25)
The better part of wisdom is to avoid unnecessary contact with carriers of contagious diseases. The same is true spiritually speaking. Anger, bitterness, resentment, envy and other carnal characteristics can be caught and spread. Choose your friends wisely.
8. Lifestyle (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Living a healthy lifestyle physically doesn’t guarantee perpetual good health, but your chances are better. The same is true spiritually. Living a lifestyle of wisdom, acknowledging God in all your ways, is foundational for spiritual health.
9. Giving (Luke 6:38)
It takes an investment in a healthy lifestyle to strengthen your body’s immune system. Investing your resources — time, talent and treasure — in your spiritual life will return to you abundant spiritual health. We reap what we sow physically and spiritually.
10. Fellowship with other Christians (Romans 12:10)
Remove a part of the human body and set it aside, and it dies within minutes. Remove yourself from relationships with others, and the same is likely to happen spiritually. You are a “cell” in the body of Christ, and you must stay connected to be nurtured as a part of the whole.
How healthy is your immune system? You will be healthier spiritually when you implement more of these principles consistently. And the healthier you are, the more likely you are to withstand the infections of this world.