Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Here’s a basic principle for remaining healthy: eat the right stuff, don’t eat too much, and exercise. That same concept can be applied to spiritual health as well. Study God’s Word, but don’t just sit around studying, put it into action. Serving others is spiritual exercise.
Someone once told me early on in my Christian life that it was time for me to stop just reading all the time and put the Word into practice. I was afraid to do it, worried that I was unqualified because I still had so much to learn. But he was right, if I was ever going to start living the way God wanted me to live, I’d have to walk out of my room and start serving other people.
Let’s look to our example of how to love and serve: Jesus. If anyone ever had a right to be served by everyone else, it was Jesus. Despite the fact that He simply could have ordered everyone to bow down to Him as their King, He chose instead to become servant to all. He didn’t come to earth to be served, but to give His own life.
Now, what’s holding us back from giving unselfishly for the sake of others knowing Him?
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
The most important commands we’re ever given by God are to love Him above all else and to love other people. This starts with loving our own fellow believers. By our love for “one another,” Jesus says, the world will know we’re His. We don’t always do real well at that, do we? Truth is, the outside world often sees the church as a bunch of bickering people who can’t get along.
It’s unfortunate that the people we call brothers and sisters in the family of God are often the ones who we’re least likely to get along with. It shouldn’t be this way. I submit to you that the leading cause of problems within the church is pride. If we’d put others’ needs before our own, we’d find a much healthier church with healthier individuals.
Pride eats away at the soul of a Christian, causing spiritual health to decline. We can’t get the other commands right if we can’t get the love part. No amount of prayer and Bible study is going to get us unstuck spiritually if we’re not willing to love.
Love is an absolutely essential element of the life of a believer. Without it, we’re flat and ineffective, not living out the calling God has given us.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Are you ready? Here’s the subject most people don’t want to hear about when it comes to living for God. Money and tithing. You may cringe when you hear a pastor or teacher speak on this topic, but I’m going to ask you to bear with me for a moment.
One reason that many Christians remain spiritually unhealthy is because they choose to ignore this one principle from God’s Word. If you’re spending time with God in prayer, reading and studying the Bible, trying to love your neighbor as yourself, and everything else, but you’re holding something back from God, you’re never going to succeed. It’s not about funding the church. God doesn’t ask us to give because He needs our money. What He wants most is us, and if we’re possessed by our possessions, we can’t be His.
Tithing really isn’t about the amount. It’s about the way in which we give it. If we’re glad to give and have a good attitude, it’s good for our spiritual health. If we give, but it’s with great hesitancy, we’re not doing ourselves any good. Tithing is more about giving the first than it is about giving a tenth. When we trust in God enough to give back to Him some of what He’s given us, we’re actually worshipping Him. When we worship, we’re saying He’s in control and we’re not.
Presenting to God some of what’s already His to begin with is good for spiritual health. Holding on to our stuff and hoarding it, that’s not. Wise people know the difference.
Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Someone once asked Jesus what God’s greatest command was (Mark 12:28). He answered that it was to love God with everything we have, more than we love anything else. That’s a difficult thing for most of us. We love a lot of things.
Think about some things that you love. You love your family. You may have a pet that you love. Maybe there is a hobby you can’t get enough of. Or there could even be things like your career or the success you’ve achieved that have become objects of your love. God is saying to love Him more than you love anything else. Anything at all.
There was another person in the Bible that asked Jesus what He had to do to get into heaven (Matthew 19:16). Jesus answered Him that he had to give up all of the things that he loved more than he loved Jesus. The very rich man had a ton of stuff he had acquired. The man couldn’t part with his possessions because he had begun to identify himself by them, so he didn’t give up anything and he went away from Jesus very sad. What that man needed to realize was that Jesus is better than anything that he loved in his life. What you and I need to realize is that anything we could give up for Jesus is worth it.
We should love Jesus so much that we want what He wants. We should want to be like Him and want to do what He did. When we make Him most important in our lives, we’re starting to really live for God. When He’s our treasure, and we love Him above all, we can be transformed.
John 13:15-16 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever
Have you ever found yourself stuck in life? Maybe you had this great plan, but after time passed, you just never seemed to get to where you were headed. It could be that’s even true of your spiritual life. You’ve gone to church, tried to be a better person, and just seem to be spinning your wheels. I’ve been there.
It’s tough to be in a situation like that, when you feel like you’re doing all that you can to improve but not seeing any results. It’s infuriating, in fact. Part of the problem with our failed efforts is that we’re trying to make change on our own. It’s not possible apart from the help of the Holy Spirit.
There are seven key habits that are taught in order to improve spiritual health. These habits are not just more effort to transform ourselves; they’re daily choices we make to align what we want with what God wants. I’m going to go deeper into each of these habits over the next few days, but today I’ll just list them for you to ponder.
The 7 habits to improve our spiritual health are:
- Love Jesus more than anything else. (Mark 12:30)
- Meet with God daily. (Proverbs 8:34)
- Study and do the Word of God. (Psalm 1:1-3)
- Love other people. (Mark 12:31)
- Give the best to God. (James 1:17)
- Serve others unselfishly. (Mark 10:45)
- Share the Good News about Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:2)