“How Are You?”

Edwin Adams, London

The Third Epistle of John was written to a man whose health apparently was not equal to his hospitality. For the writer prays that Gaius may prosper and be in health even as his soul prospered. The body is not always an index of the soul. A healthy physique and a fine presence are letters of recommendation, but they may not reflect the state of the inner life, that is, the truest life, and that which we shall take with us into the unseen and eternal world.

What are the marks of poor health? A low temperature is one; a feverish temperature is another. Zeal without knowledge is far from ideal, but it is better than knowledge without zeal. Feverish excitement, however, is not the same as energy.

Difficulty in breathing is another sign of failing health. And breathing, with its twofold process of taking in and giving out, is a picture of prayer, by which we give out to God our need and take in His guidance and strength. “Restraining prayer we cease to fight.” Shallow and irregular breathing, in the physical and spiritual sense, is amongst the chief causes of poor health both in the realm of nature and in the sphere of grace.

Most know the meaning of “that tired feeling.” A healthy tiredness does no harm, but a habitual “fed-up” feeling is a sure sign that something is wrong. Stimulants may do good when used occasionally, but it is an unhealthy body that always needs to be whipped into activity; where a full and vigorous spiritual life is coursing in the soul there will be no need for artificial stimulants.

A failing appetite is another danger signal, and sometimes goes with a craving for unwholesome things. If we abandon the solid nourishment of the Word of God for the highly-seasoned tit-bits of mental and spiritual fare, it is an evidence that our souls are sadly out of condition.

What are we to do to regain our health? For ordinary purposes, our best medical advisers are ourselves. The fact is, we all know what to do and what to avoid to improve our health both physical and spiritual. But, in both spheres, we are loath to sacrifice present enjoyment for future well-being.

Self-denial is pleasure postponed. To live for the future at the expense of the present is true wisdom. We are to “walk in the Spirit.” Without Him the human spirit droops and languishes, and becomes weary and helpless. Spiritual health is the easiest to gain and maintain, provided we are prepared to pay the price.