by Pastor Rob Bloss
Today, I got my lab results back from my (semi-)annual physical. The one my wife “suggested” I schedule. Overall, the results showed that I am in good health. That’s a huge blessing I’ve enjoyed throughout my life. That’s not to say I have been completely free of issues. Since arriving at Covenant 3 & 1/2 years ago I’ve had my hip replaced and shoulder surgery. I’ll let you decide if there is a correlation!
While my weight has been pretty steady over the last 10 or so years, I know I would benefit from dropping ten. My metabolism slowed down when I hit my 40’s, but my love for pies and pasta didn’t! But for the most part I’ve adjusted to growing older, to not being able to do some things the way I used to, or the way I think I used to. I’ve just traded basketball for bike rides and running for tennis.
Our health isn’t something any of us should take for granted, and COVID, and the layers of stress that have pressed on us this past year, has probably taken more of a toll than most of us have yet come to fully own.
My doctor checked me out and asked a lot of questions. They took a blood sample and ran a bunch of tests. Then I received a report about everything from cholesterol to calcium. And this morning, just to cover all my bases, I went to the dentist for my 6-month cleaning and check-up. I’m hoping I’m good now for a few more trips around the sun!
The whole purpose of the annual physical is to look for signs, indicators of possible health issues. Is your blood pressure the right number? Is your white blood cell count correct? Are the numbers for triglycerides and glucose in a healthy range? Do you have any cavities or issues with your gums?
What about spiritual health? Should you have a spiritual check-up? If you did, what would be the signs of spiritual health or the warning signs that would let you know you were headed for trouble? This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions but a possible baseline for evaluating your spiritual health.
1. How is Your Gratitude for God’s Grace?
The message of the Gospel is incredible. Jesus loves us so much He died on the cross for our sins so we can be reconciled with God. His grace forgives us and welcomes us into a relationship with Him. This should never cease to lead us to gratitude and if we no longer are moved by it, there is a problem!
2. How much do you care about the lost?
We are Christ’s ambassadors proclaiming His message of reconciliation. We should be daily praying for those we know who don’t know Christ and doing whatever we can to point them to Jesus. But we can easily be distracted and focused on our own needs rather than the greatest single need of any person.
3. Are you more attracted to spiritual things than to worldly ones?
We should use our time and money pursuing things that have eternal value. If not, we can be drawn to what the world offers rather than what Christ calls us to. Our interests may become increasingly about things that can lead to sin or take us away from where we should be. Temptations are then not resisted but rationalized.
4. Are you frequently serving others?
Every Christ follower has been given abilities, experiences, passions, and spiritual gifts. We are to use them in service to others, to build up the body of Christ. Yet, we may spend our time on what we want to do rather than what needs we can meet. Jesus is our example of servanthood, of serving others instead of selfishly focusing on our own interests.
5. Is Jesus at the center of everything?
He should be more than just our professed priority.
6. Do you have a regular devotional life?
Each day a Christ follower needs to spend time with Jesus in prayer and Bible reading. A regular devotional time is crucial spiritually just like regular eating and exercise are vital for physical health. A growing relationship with Jesus is impossible if no time is spent with Him on a regular basis.
7. Are you giving to God’s work?
Generosity is the hallmark of Christianity. The Bible is abundantly clear that everything we have is God’s and keeping it to ourselves is stealing from Him. When you spend all your time and money on your wants and needs and there is nothing left for God, that’s an issue.
8. Do you regularly attend church?
Attending church services, ideally in-person, provides a weekly opportunity to worship with other Christ-followers, hear God’s Word proclaimed, and fellowship together. It is what it means to be part of a local church community. Frequently missing services makes it very difficult for you to grow spiritually and connect relationally.
9. Do you enjoy going to church?
Going to church should not become another obligation we must fulfill - like doing laundry, paying bills, or going to school. We can begin to think like a consumer not a contributor. We can end up focusing on externals: being “fed”, the quality of children’s ministry, and whether or not we like the flavor of coffee or style of music. But we should come ready to worship out of the overflow of the Lord’s presence in our lives, expectant and joyful!
10. Are you honest with yourself?
When Aaron made the golden calf and Moses asked him how it happened, Aaron was not honest with himself or Moses. He did not own the fact that he had made an idol. Examining these signs of spiritual health mean nothing if we are not honest about where we are spiritually. And no one can do this self-evaluation but you.
Getting a physical exam is the beginning of improving your health, not the end. If you need to lower your cholesterol or reduce your blood pressure, it’s not going to happen all by itself. Information is not enough. Transformation requires change from the inside out – God doing His part and we ours in His strength.