There is a distinct, dynamic, and indissoluble connection between one’s physical and spiritual health.
John referred to the physical-spiritual connection when he wrote: “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” (3 John 2). Ellen White further illuminated this principle when she wrote, “The body is a most important medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers.”1
As we understand this connection there is wisdom in periodically doing a personal physical-spiritual checkup.
Health-care professionals agree: wellness checkups, preventive care, and regular physicals are helpful to good health. Indicators of good health include healthy cholesterol levels, good blood pressure, healthy weight, healthy skin and hair (to the extent that one has hair), clear vision, mental alertness, restful sleep, good muscle tone, and healthy bones. These health indicators don’t happen by accident.
Ellen White identifies how good health is obtained and maintained in what are widely known as the eight natural remedies: “pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness [temperance or self-control], rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power.”2 If we practice these habits, whatever our health status, we will realize improvement.
There is little debate that these factors are important. In fact, even without technical medical input, one can informally assess health habits by doing a simple, self-conducted 1-5 self-evaluation (1 being poor or nonexistent and 5 being regular or habitual).
In counsel to the church in Thessalonica (2 Thess. 1:1-4, 11, 12) the apostle Paul offered three simple indicators of one’s spiritual health. Normally he began his letters by giving thanks for the congregation to whom he was writing. But in this letter he uniquely expresses his thanks via affirmation of essential indicators of spiritual success in the life of a Christian.
First, one’s faith should consistently grow. Progress should be measurable; not a perfectly upward line but a gradual progressive movement as one daily relates to God, His Word, and dependence on the Spirit (verse 3). Second, love and goodwill, shown in actions for members in the body of Christ and people in the surrounding community, should abound; increasing love (verse 3). Third, in addition to believers’ faith and love, Paul emphasized the necessity of endurance in persecution and tribulations, steadfast endurance (verse 4).
Assessing one’s spiritual growth is necessary for ascertaining whether one is progressing, maintaining, or declining spiritually.
By examining ourselves physically and spiritually, progress, or the need for it, can be maximized through personal effort combined with divine assistance.
1 Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn ., 1917), p. 488.
2 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 127.
Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.