We're kind of obsessed with health and wellness here in the U.S. Here are some news stories I saw just this week. One said that getting too little sleep is not only bad for your health but can lead to early death. Another said that getting your exercise in a green place like a park can be good for your mental health. Still another said you can encourage children to eat fruit by cutting it in a visually interesting way. And one said that the substance that makes chili peppers hot can also relieve pain.
We emphasize health so much that it's even led some to misinterpret scripture. I'm referring specifically to a verse all of us have heard. "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3 John 2).
There's something going around today called the "faith" teaching or the "health and wealth" teaching. Some teachers will take that verse completely out of context and say it's a proof text that Christians should never be sick and walk in perfect health and healing 24 hours a day. They either don't understand Bible interpretation or they willingly neglect the fact that it was just a common greeting. John wasn't saying that we'll always be healthy. He's saying, "My heart's desire is that you are spiritually healthy. And if you can be physically as well off as you are spiritually, I wish that for you, too."
It certainly doesn't mean that if you're in poor health that you're living a "Satan-defeated life" or that you don't have enough faith! To get that out of the text, you've got to force an interpretation on it.
Physical health or financial prosperity is not always an indication of spiritual health and prosperity. That's very easy to figure out. Do you know any unbelievers who have good health, or who have money? Does that mean that they're spiritually prosperous? No, of course not! And I know some great men and women of God who suffer physically, even though they have great faith. You and I can philosophize about it, but they live it.
What if that were prayed about us, that we would be as physically fit as we are spiritually? I wonder ... would we be strong and vibrant, or would we be anemic?
Of course we should eat healthy, get some exercise and enough sleep, and all that. But first and foremost, we should make sure our souls prosper. That's where our emphasis should always be.
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