I’m taking an aside before we get into our next monthly Bible Journaling. 3 John 1:2 says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (NASB) With the current crisis we are in, our health is at the forefront of our minds. We are being bombarded daily with Coronavirus statistics, and sometimes, hourly updates on how many have contracted the disease and how many have died. Predictions of how bad this will get before it gets better and on it goes. If we listen to the news too much, we can get into despair. However, we are not to live in a place of darkness or distress. John tells us we are to “prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”
We here in the United States are very fortunate to live in a country where the health care system is one of the best in the world. We have been trained from a young age to be aware of our health. Hygiene and general well-being are promoted constantly, even more so with this pandemic. Notice, John says we are to be in health like our soul prospers…so how well are our souls prospering?
What steps are we taking to see that our soul prospers and is healthy? Are we as intentional about our soul as we are about our physical well-being? Just as we must take care to wash our hands, stand six feet from others, not gather in large crowds, and shelter in place at home, we must take care that our Spiritual health is good also. J. Vernon McGee says in his commentary on Third John, that “What physical health is to the body, holiness is to the Spiritual life of the believer.” When we live a life that is healthy Spiritually, we are living lives of righteousness. We are endeavoring to become more like Christ each day in our actions, speech, attitudes, etc.
Just as we go to the doctor every year for a physical exam to ensure that everything is in good order, we need to step back and do an assessment of our Spiritual life. I went to the Internet for some resources to help me in devising a sort of Spiritual exam that we can look at to see where we are in our Spiritual health. Influence Magazine has an article that was written in January 2019 by Alan Pastian, and he gives a few things for us to think about. He says that we are to take an inventory of our Spiritual life…are we growing or are we standing still?
The first thing he lists is Shame. Shame can make us isolated, just as we are isolated now with this pandemic. Satan attacks us when we sin and tells us how horrible we are, and we become filled with shame and feel worthless, and we stop growing. God, through the Holy Spirit, says, “Ok, you made a wrong choice” and then He reminds us of His love for us and how He values us, invites us to repent and turn from our sin and our relationship with Him grows.
Secondly, is Holiness. Do we protect our relationship with God through our actions, attitudes, and daily lives? It isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts, it’s about our relationship with Jesus. Are we protecting areas in our lives to ensure that we maintain a strong, healthy relationship with God? Holiness begins with attitudes and then branches out into actions.
Next is Comparison. I think we are all guilty of this in so many areas. I know I must be sure I don’t become discouraged by my Bible Journaling compared to someone else’s who is a bonafide artist. My artwork is never going to be perfect, and God knows that. I also need to guard against becoming prideful of the talents God has given me that may be better than someone else’s. When we look at others, our eyes are off Jesus. Keep our focus on God. That helps us to grow.
Conflict is next on the list. Relationships can bring conflict. How we handle that conflict can be the difference between Spiritual growth or stagnation. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean it needs to become a knock-down, drag-out battle. We can disagree and still be able to maintain a relationship of peace. I Thessalonians 5:13 says, “…be at peace among yourselves.” (KJV)
The fifth component on the list is Forgiveness. When we are in conflict, or a relationship has been broken, we need to forgive. Mr. Pastian says, “Forgiveness is less a feeling and more an act of obedience.” God forgave us of our sins and therefore we are to forgive those who have done wrong to us. We show Jesus to others when we forgive, and it helps us in our Spiritual walk with Him to grow and move forward.
Next is Calling. God gives each of us a calling. How well are we being obedient to that calling? Part of our calling is endeavoring to be like Jesus, living a life that brings honor and glory to Him. Our calling can also be, for lack of a better term, a job that God has given us to do. Are we embracing that calling in a way that shows the way to Jesus? When we immerse ourselves into that calling, we step forward and grow and God leads us.
The last item on our Spiritual exam list is Contentment. For a lot of us, this can be a hard thing. Our circumstances may not be ideal, but circumstances are not what brings contentment…staying connected with Jesus does. He promises a full life (John 10:10) to those who keep their relationship with Him strong. Even in the middle of a crisis as we are currently, contentment can still be in our hearts. Yes, it’s awful that we can’t be with our friends, or be in church, but remember, this is only a season…it will pass. God is with us always! Keeping our relationship with Him strong brings overwhelming satisfaction.
So, today, take a Spiritual exam. Are you healthy and prospering? If not, dig into God’s Word, the Spiritual doctor’s bag, and find the medicine you need to bring you good health.