Holistic medicine is all the rage in certain circles: the theory that you need to treat the whole of a person, and not just the individual parts. There is a certain kind of sense to the idea. The whole body knit together, is affected by each part and the healthiness of that part. Stub your toe, your eyes tear up and your head begins to pound.
More important than physical health is spiritual health. We are reminded, “bodily exercise has some profit, but righteousness is profitable for all things, having promise both for this life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)
When it comes to spiritual health, the Bible is all in on the concept of a holistic approach.
Concerning the health of the body of Christ, the church, the Bible says that it is to grow through the working of each member of the church doing their part. (cf. Ephesians 4:16). Likewise, we read, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
If we want a strong, spiritually-healthy church, then we must work on developing strong, spiritually-healthy members in that church.
The Bible has some thoughts on achieving this as well.
Solomon, writing instructions for spiritual health, advised, “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22; NKJV)
Notice the holistic approach Solomon advises for learning spiritual wisdom. The ear, the eye and the heart must all play a part. The ear must be attentive when godly teachers are speaking. The eye must be fixed on the printed words of God’s Message to man, and the heart must treasure these words beyond measure. The importance of this total approach to learning God’s word cannot be overstated.
The psalmist declares that the righteous man, blessed by God in all that he does, meditates on God’s word day and night (Psalms 1:2-3).
Solomon has more to say about a holistic righteousness: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.” (Proverbs 4:23-24; NKJV) Jesus echoed these exact words a thousand years later saying, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:34-36; NKJV) Else-when, Jesus also reminded His followers: “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” (Matthew 15:18; NKJV)
You can’t be spiritually healthy if your heart is full of sin and corruption. Likewise, spiritual health requires sound speech that cannot be condemned. (cf. Titus 2:8)
Finally, Solomon addresses the importance of your feet in an all-around plan of spiritual health: “Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:25-27; NKJV)
Again, we see the importance of focusing the eye properly, using the head wisely, but all so that the feet may walk the right path. Jesus said that there were only two paths. One path led to life; the other path led to destruction. (cf. Matthew 7:13-14) It’s no good to claim that your heart is on the right path while your feet are busy running down the wrong path. The whole of your spiritual life needs to be working together to make sure that your feet are leading you in the right direction, at the end of which is life eternal.
If you would like to learn more about how to be spiritually healthy, and of the path that leads to life, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.