7 Principles of Healthy Living As a Christian
One reality we should understand about Christian living, is that God want us to prosper all-round, especially in our health. Your health is a great determinant factor in how fit you will be for effective Christian impact. Therefore, be intentional about your health and lifestyle.
In our intentional approach towards staying healthy as a Christian, there are certain principles that are applicable in ensuring we stay aware of the realities of GOOD HEALTH. We bring to you 7 PRINCIPLES OF HEALTHY LIVING AS A CHRISTIAN.
PRINCIPLE 1: BELIEVE THAT GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HEALTHY
The first principle of healthy living is simply to understand that God truly wants you to be healthy.
It is natural for all of us to desire physical health with a body that is free of disease and functioning at its best.
I personally believe that it is also God’s desire that we be healthy; this was certainly part of His plan for us as we see it in the Garden of Eden.
In 3 John 2, the following prayer is offered: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” And in John 10:10, Christ says, “ … I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (New American Standard Bible).
Now the abundant life would seem to include our mental, emotional and spiritual health, which are far more significant than our physical health, but I think that “abundant life” could normally be interpreted to include our physical health as well. If that were not true, then why would Christ’s ministry here on earth have so heavily emphasized the physical healing of the sick and related it so closely to the principles of spiritual health?
Medical science tells us that many of our bodily illnesses are really psychosomatic — that is to say, they are mind-induced or at least mind-assisted. Therefore, when we become exposed to a disease or when we think we might be coming down with one, our mental reaction to the situation might be a key to the outcome. There is nothing wrong with taking all the reasonable medical precautions, but it would also be appropriate to claim God’s basic intention that we be healthy and to pray for good health.
Of course, if we do become ill, we should not necessarily interpret this as an indication of our lack of trust in God. Often, God has some very worthwhile lessons to teach us in sickness. If we become ill, then the appropriate step is to fully receive and apply to our lives whatever it is that God wants to show us.
PRINCIPLE 2: ENJOY YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
In the last article, you learned that it is ultimately God’s desire for you to be healthy spiritually and physically. Today, we’ll talk through the idea of enjoying your new life in Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 list the various parts of the fruit of the spirit. The first four of these are love, joy, peace and patience.
Think back in your own life to when you have abundantly experienced those qualities. You can probably remember how good you felt physically in the context of great joy or when you were experiencing great peace. When you ask people who are joyful how they are, they will generally say they feel good.
In his book “None of These Diseases,” Dr. S.I. McMillen points out that worry is actually one of the primary causes of many diseases prevalent in America today.
Consider Proverbs 14:30, which illustrates this phenomenon of the emotion of peace affecting physical health: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (New International Version). And consider Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (NIV).
PRINCIPLE 3: CONFESS YOUR SINS AND TURN FROM THEM
Now that you’ve learned the value of enjoying your new life in Christ, we’ll dive into the principle of confessing your sins and turning from them.
The Scriptures amply illustrate the adverse physical effects of failing to confess our sins and stubbornly refusing to turn from them.
Consider Psalm 32:3-4 (New International Version): “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
Also consider Psalm 38:3-7 (NIV): “Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.”
The antidote to physical suffering caused by unconfessed sin is simply to confess the sin and turn from it, for, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
God’s forgiveness releases us from feelings of guilt and thereby promotes physical health. In fact, David specifically observed this in Psalms 32:5 (NIV): “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
PRINCIPLE 4: OBEY THE COMMANDS OF SCRIPTURE
Last article, we looked closely at confessing and turning from sins. Now, we’ll consider the value of obeying the commands laid out for us in the Bible.
The Word of God is extremely powerful when it comes to combating disease.
In Exodus 15:26, the Lord promises not to allow “any of the diseases” to afflict the Israelites if they will obey His commandments. Consider Proverbs 4:20-22 (New International Version): “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words … for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.”
No doubt medical science will continue to find physical explanations for the techniques God uses to give us health as we follow His Word. I still recommend you obey what the Bible prescribes for us.
PRINCIPLE 5: WATCH FOR DANGER SIGNALS
Last article, you learned about the mighty power of the Holy Scriptures. Now, we’ll look at how to spot and watch for danger signals in your life.
Automobiles often have red warning lights that signal us when something we cannot see is malfunctioning.
God has wonderfully designed our bodies so that they, too, signal us when they need special attention. Consistent dizziness, nausea and pain in a specific area of the body are all examples of the danger signals that God allows our bodies to give us.
Sometimes, when a danger signal occurs, you may be aware of a possible cause. For example, if you feel sluggish and you haven’t been getting much sleep, you should try getting to bed earlier. If your efforts don’t help and the danger signal persists, you should consult a doctor. After all, you would do at least as much for your car by taking it to a mechanic if it were malfunctioned in some way!
In addition to consulting a doctor when a danger signal occurs, I heartily recommend a regular physical checkup as a preventive measure. For some years now, I have had a complete physical every year. The detailed advice that I have received from the doctor, nutritionist and others involved with the physical has no doubt prevented many problems for me in the past and will certainly prevent many more problems in the future — problems that might be very difficult to cure if allowed to develop. The advantage of a physical is that early warning signals can be detected long before your body gives you a more obvious signal of the problem.
PRINCIPLE 6: CONTROL THE QUALITY OF YOUR FOOD INTAKE
You now have learned how to watch for danger spots, so today we’ll focus on how to control the quality of your food intake.
Sound eating habits are directly beneficial to your physical health. That is probably one reason the Israelites were warned about eating the fat of animals (Leviticus 3:17). Daniel benefits from eating vegetables and water instead of rich food (Daniel 1:12-15).
Each of us needs to prayerfully study what qualified nutritionists have to say concerning the food we eat, and then we should apply the advice to our own diets. The following are some points which many experts recommend:
- Eat a balanced diet from the basic food groups: milk and other dairy products, meat, fruits and vegetables, and grains and breads. Candy and other highly processed snacks shouldn’t make up a significant portion of your diet.
- Greatly reduce your refined sugar intake and cut back on some on your meat consumption. Most Americans consume far too much sugar and probably too much meat for optimum health.
- Eat your food closer to the state in which God originally created it rather than in a highly altered form. For example, raw or lightly cooked vegetables are generally superior in nutritional value to highly cooked or processed vegetables.
- Eliminate beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol from your diet. There are several healthy alternatives you can drink, such as herb tea, decaffeinated coffee and grain-based beverages.
PRINCIPLE 7: CONTROL THE QUANTITY OF YOUR FOOD INTAKE
Now that you’ve learned how to control the quality of your food intake, we’ll take a look at controlling the quantity of your food intake.
In Philippians 3:19, we see that overeating and other forms of overindulgence are a bad thing because they set up food and other earthly pleasures as gods, which we worship. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we see the principles of keeping our bodily desires under control for the sake of a more important objective.
Medical science has given us plenty of reason to believe that being overweight can be a primary cause of many diseases and may lead to other serious complications. Therefore, if we are to be good stewards of our bodies, we need to do our best to have a healthy weight in proportion to our height and bone structure. We can all strive to eat in moderation to stay healthy and prevent food from becoming an idol in our lives.
If you struggle with your weight or overeating, a registered dietician or certified nutrition specialist can help you come up with a plan to improve your health.
Sometimes, weight and eating issues are rooted in eating disorders. Eating too much is not the only problem people face. Severe restriction of food is also unhealthy and can be very dangerous. If you struggle with an eating disorder of any kind, talk to a doctor or a mental health professional.
Whatever food-related struggles you may have, it is important to develop a plan and take action. The key to success will be for you to trust God for the discipline to stick to it.
This article was originally published in “Managing Yourself” by Steve Douglass.