Let me start by saying one of the most grotesque teachings under the label of "Christianity" is the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. It teaches that God blesses us with these things in proportion to our faith and removes these things from us as our faith wavers. Very prominent teachers within this false teaching say that it is God's will for us to prosper financially and that faith, positive speech, and donations (possibly to Christian ministries) will increase one's material wealth. This unfortunate and damning false gospel leads people to think that something they can do can merit anything from God. It binds professing believers all over the world to a false view that trials are a curse and mark of a lack of faith and giving. You can see how this is a lucrative business and a sure-fire way to build a large church. However, how does this topic intersect with the reality that bad things happen to faithful people and God is in control of everything? (For more details and in depth study on this topic for those who have never been introduced to it please look under the list of resources at the end of this blog.)
Is Seeking Health a Form of the Prosperity Gospel?
Seeking health can be very similar to seeking riches and blessings that the prosperity gospel teaches are God's will for your life. Does the fact that this doctrine is damning and untrue make pursuing financial gain or health sinful? Of course no one would say that but yet in the back of our minds we may give ourselves a free pass in this area falsely. Let me explain further. Humans were created to be image-bearers of their Creator, God. God also gave mankind the huge responsibility of taking care of all of His creation including the earth and everything on it. Therefore we are stewards of everything: the earth, the animals, our lives, our bodies, our health, our kids, our families, our finances, etc... Seeking profit and health can obviously be pursued out of selfish ungodly motives. But stewarding our lives well is not an option, it is a command and a responsibility.
The late Jerry Bridges wrote an intriguing book called Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate back in 2007. He hits some big topics that punch many of us right between the eyes including: anxiety/frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, impatience, irritability, anger, judgmentalism, jealousy, sins of the tongue and worldliness. These topics are all too prevalent today in the church and convicting to work through biblically. However, the one that seems to be one of the hardest to get under control and the easiest to justify away is a "lack of self control." We can always come up with a reason, excuse or justification for the things we do that may or may not be from a sinful motivation. In the world of seeking health and "anti-aging medicine" there are two ways to look at it that come from two very distinctly different world-views.
Can We Live A Second Longer Than God Has Ordained Us To?
Since his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you,
and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.. (Job 14:5)
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:16)
In the circles I run around in, the sovereignty of God is a very big deal. And rightfully so. I grew up with a little god who would knock at people's hearts and hope they would let him in. He was loving and kind but had no real concern for holiness and really couldn't do anything about all the bad things that humans had "chosen" to do with their "free will." He had to just sit back and hope they chose him in the end. To my surprise after God crushed my heart and lovingly drew me to Himself, He was much bigger than I realized. The God of the Bible is in control of every molecule in the created universe(s). He sovereignly orchestrates and ordains everything that happens including numbering our days and even the hairs on our heads. This begs the question: Then why do we do anything? If God controls everything then every cookie I eat must be "His will" for my life right? Wrong. This is an area we as Christians need to be consistent on or our faith looks foolish to the world. Just because God orchestrates and ordains does not take away any of our responsibility to obey Him. We are still called to be stewards of everything He has created and steward it in a way that points to Him. Making fun of the "green" movement or failing to look into the importance of supporting farmers who farm organically and take care of the soil is could potentially be a form of poor stewardship. Yes its wrong when groups like PETA put more emphasis on animal life than human life but does that mean that treating animals properly is not a noble God glorifying thing? Read Psalm 104:13-27 and hear how the Master Gardener cares for the earth and loves His animals. My pastor touched on this in his sermon last Sunday. (see link below).
WHERE DO WE Go from here?
Many reading this will already been on board but some people reading really haven't thought through this much yet. If you've never considered how vital it is to steward your health for the glory of God then here is the basics of where to start: nutritional nourishment, rest, exercise, and thought life. Your body is designed to work well when given the right signals. Processed foods rob nutrients from your body so they need to be consumed as infrequently as possible. Pesticides and herbicides (Round Up) were not meant to be consumed by humans and have been shown to be toxic and deadly to human cells. Go organic as much as possible. Find some local farmers who are doing things right and buy from them. We make our own hormones and don't need additional hormones or antibiotics pumped into the meat we eat. Get grass fed beef, free range chicken, pastured eggs, and make sure labels say "hormone and antibiotic free." The body was also designed to need rest. Are you sleeping at least 7 hrs/night? I've heard young passionate men say "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and though ambition is good, this is a clear misunderstanding of stewardship in all areas of life. Yes there may be a season where sleep is elusive due to illness or a new baby but it still should be a priority. The body was also made to move and be active. It's sad that we need clinical trials to tell us that lack of exercise is bad for our health. Find a form of exercise you enjoy and make it a habit. And lastly, how is your thought life? Do you think about things from a positive perspective or is your natural bent toward the negative? God commands us to think on good things and though it is not needed, clinical trials show that positive thinking has numerous effects for healing and long term health. And negative thoughts will make us sicker faster than we can imagine. God built this in. Isn't it amazing!
- God's sovereignty never negates man's responsibility and this is true in stewarding our health and bodies
- Stewardship is a form of worship and a large part of the Christian's testimony before the world
- Examine motivations - steward your health well to honor the Lord and leave results in God's hands. We are not taking away from God's sovereignty in trials or disease.
- Don't procrastinate - start being a better steward of the gift of life that God has given you.
- Find like-minded community- consider joining our Facebook Community Group Page where we discuss these topics daily
- Stewardship is not about us - it is about giving glory where glory is due and stewarding your health is just one of the many ways we can honor Christ with what we've been given.