It has been a tumultuous 3+ years and one of our biggest lessons has been the importance of managing our mental health. But while we strive to do better at that, I want to remind us of the importance of our spiritual health. Really, it’s all connected – mental health, emotional health, physical health and spiritual health. Each affects one another. But if you think about it, over the long term our spiritual health is the most enduring. We may be slow to admit it but our bodies deteriorate as we get older. As much as we hope to avoid it, the older we get our minds begin to slow down, and we struggle to recall things. And although it can be a good thing, our emotions tend to even out as we age so we don’t get as high or as low as we used to. But our spiritual well-being can get stronger as we age if we attend to it. In fact, no matter what our age, when we are spiritually healthy we experience more of things like love, joy, peace, and patience.
Let me pause to make sure I explain what I mean by spiritual health. What I mean is that essence of ourselves that connects to the divine. Our spirit transcends our body, and our minds. Our spirit is closely related to our emotions but is not the same. It is our spirit that really comes alive when we connect with God through salvation, and we receive God’s Spirit – the Holy Spirit – within us. And that is the foundation of spiritual health – receiving God’s Spirit by committing to Jesus Christ as our Lord. And spiritual health is improved when we allow God’s Spirit to guide our emotions, our minds, and our bodies.
So managing our spiritual health means paying attention to and feeding God’s Spirit within us. Our physical health is greatly impacted by what we eat and how much we use our bodies (I’ve learned that the hard way). Our mental health is impacted by how we use our minds – what we think about or worse, not think at all. Our emotional and mental health is impacted by what we feed our minds and emotions – what we watch, listen to, and participate in. And all those actions affect our spirit as well. When we allow God’s spirit to drive how we live, our spirits get stronger and stronger. When we give time and attention to worship God, that nourishes our spirit. When we make choices in our lives based on what God wants us to do this exercise strengthens our spirit.
Lastly, let me show you how you can measure your spiritual health. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to some believers in Galatia admonishing them on this point. They had been listening to someone telling them they needed to follow a different way of life. Paul called that way being led by the flesh, and detailed some pretty unhealthy behavior that is the product of living according to your own desires. He encouraged them to live by the Holy Spirit and told them what that would produce in their life. He wrote in chapter 5 verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When you attend to your spiritual health, you exhibit these qualities in yourself.