Proverbs and the Connection of our Spiritual, Physical, and Mental Health

If you or someone you know suffers from inflammation, whether it’s from a type of arthritis or another chronic health condition, the pain is always an issue. I know from my experience, the pain varies from day to day. However, I do my best to keep moving and stay active.

Physical sickness can also intertwine with our mental health and our spirituality. If you deal with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, chronic physical pain can exacerbate the problem. Chronic pain, whether we want to admit it or not, affects our way of thinking and how we view the world. In our pain, we may seek God and doctors for answers, but we can become spiritually discouraged when the pain continues.

I live in Indiana, where the summers are very humid to go along with the heat. In the past, my joints seemed to be affected by rainy patterns and cold fronts, but this was the first summer I noticed the inflammation being off the charts. I have sought medical advice for the inflammation, taken up a new regimen of self-care, and I have also studied a little Scripture about it.

Proverbs, an Old Testament wisdom book, gives practical and spiritual advice on many life matters, the link between our spiritual,mental, and physical health being no exception. I just want to share some of what I came across to encourage you today.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”                   (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).

“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” (Proverbs 15:13, NASB).

“The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it?” (Proverbs 18:14, NASB).

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”                 (Proverbs 12:25, NASB).

“A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.”          (Proverbs 14:30, NASB).

“Bright eyes gladden the heart; good news puts fat on the bones.”                           (Proverbs 15:30, NASB).

As you go through your day, I want you to be encouraged. I also want you to make sure to work on every aspect of your health- spiritual,mental, and physical. God bless.

Managing Our Anger

Growing up, I was a fan of The Incredible Hulk TV show which starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. In every episode, David Banner (Bill Bixby) would warn somebody, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” However, the time would come when David Banner would reach the point of getting angry and his eyes would change color. The Hulk was going to show up on screen any minute. (As a side note, in the comics, movies, and cartoons, The Incredible Hulk’s alter ego is Bruce Banner. A network executive did not like the name Bruce, thus Bruce Banner became David Banner for the TV show). The Incredible Hulk is essentially a Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde story, where one person has two distinct personalities. Dr. Banner does his best to control the monster inside of him, but he still morphs into The Hulk. The question becomes how well do you control the angry monster inside of you?

Anger, if not kept in check, can be a destructive force. Anger has been the cause of countless wars, acts of violence, broken homes, broken lives, and suffering. If you’ve ever lost your temper, it does not mean you’re a bad person, you’re human. Even the Lord Jesus Christ lost His temper when he overturned the money changer tables in the Temple.

I don’t like who I am when I get angry because I become a totally different person. I lose control and my thoughts race along with my blood pressure. The rational, collected side of me steps away and the reactive emotional side takes over. One of my personality flaws is that I don’t speak out at first and I choose to bottle up the anger. However, when the stress becomes too much, I erupt like a long dormant volcano and my hulking green monster emerges. My wife refers to these episodes as my “Three-to -six month meltdowns.” After these episodes, I am fine for a while.

The Bible does not say “don’t get angry,” it says “In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV). Anger is like a guest who long overstays their welcome in your home. Anger will eat away at you and could turn into bitterness, wrath, and may even make you vengeful towards another person, where you would want to cause them harm.

When you feel the tension rising up, take a step back and examine why you’re angry. Is this situation within your control? Did you just make a poor choice? Are you mad at something someone else did to you or a loved one? Is your anger a result of depression or anxiety? Is this a temporary or long-term situation? Please don’t act on impulse when faced with these situations, but consider that your reaction is perfectly within your control.

I am relying on my faith in Christ and study of Stoic philosophy to help guide me through the depression and anxiety, which are some of the main causes of my getting upset when unfavorable circumstances arise. If we can discover the triggers for our anger, we will be better equipped to deal with those situations.

Even in our technologically advanced modern age, I believe we can still rely on the wisdom of the ancients to guide us on how to manage our anger.

“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rest in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9, NKJV).

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32, NKJV).

“The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11, NKJV).

In this short video, the Stoic Philosopher Seneca’s viewpoint on anger is examined: Seneca on Anger.

Anger seems to be an expected emotion in our society. Anger is everywhere. In this age of social media, the “angry mob” mentality can quickly to take over when someone does or says something out of line. There is no doubt that people and situations will make us angry, but we don’t have to stay there. Who really wants to be angry all the time? I don’t believe that’s any way to live.

The biggest obstacle to overcoming our anger doesn’t lie within society, but in the space six inches between our ears: our minds. Emotions lie within our will and our will is within our control. Are you listening to or watching a program that causes you to get angry? Don’t listen to it or watch it. Is job-related stress getting to you? You can always change jobs or even careers. Is there someone who stresses you out? You can always change your reaction to that person. Thoughts rushing through your mind? Take the time to journal, relax, pray, meditate, exercise, or maybe enjoy some classical music. You can walk out of the prison of your mind any time you want. God bless you all.

 

 

 

Wisdom- The Key to Treasure

No one is immune from making an unwise decision. No matter how educated, respected, or deliberate a person is, at some point he or she will make a bad choice. Our daily lives are filled with choices to make. Though some choices are more life-altering than others, the risk to make a bad choice exist nonetheless. In a perfect world, no one would make a decision unless he or she had all of the information needed about making said decision. However, as we live in this fallen world and face the constant struggles from our sinful natures, or flesh if you will, the temptation to take sole control of our lives will be there. Unfortunately, when we make bad choices, these can result in the loss of respect among peers, broken family relationships, the loss of a job, or even the loss of personal freedom. If you are in a season of dealing with the consequences of a bad choice, there is not guilt, shame, judgment, or condemnation here. I would encourage you to seek the love and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Repent and be restored.

We are bombarded daily by temptation. The Bible tells us that these temptations come from within ourselves (see James 4:1-6) and the world around us (see 1 John 2:15-17). How can we as Christians stand strong against temptation in an ever increasing morally relaxed world? Wisdom. Wisdom shows us the path we must walk in order to avoid the landmines of temptation and bad decisions. What is wisdom? The dictionary defines wisdom as “The quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true and right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”[i] For the purposes of this article, I would define biblical wisdom as the application of God’s Word to a particular situation. In order to apply God’s Word, we must study it diligently. Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeking the wise counsel of a pastor, spouse, or close friend, but we should seek God first in all things pertaining to our lives. In order to understand and apply biblical wisdom, there are things we must know about wisdom.

Wisdom Comes from God and is Part of God’s Character

            “To God belongs wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.” (Job 12:13, NIV).

“By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; By His knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20, NIV).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:7-9, NIV, emphasis mine).

God’s Wisdom is Available to everyone who seeks after it

            Biblical wisdom is not something hidden, revealed to only pastors or a select group of people. No, God has made His wisdom known to everyone.

“Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.” (Proverbs 1:20-23, NIV).

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” (Proverbs 4:11-12, NIV).

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Listen! The Lord is calling the city- and to fear your name is wisdom-‘Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.” (Micah 6:8-9, NIV).

When We Acknowledge God, He Will Give Us Wisdom

            Just as the above verse from Micah states, God makes it known what is expected of us, and when we honor and reverence Him and His Word, He will give us wisdom.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6, NIV).

God Expects Us to be Wise

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, KJV).

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16, NIV).

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5-6, NIV).

Benefits of Heeding Wisdom

            Just as there are consequences for doing the wrong things, there are benefits when we do the right things. For example, if we exercise and take care of our bodies, we can live longer, healthier lives. If we manage our money well, we will have adequate savings and won’t be strapped down by excessive debts. The Bible is very clear about sin and its consequences. However, the Bible also teaches us about the benefits of obedience and heeding God’s wisdom. Though time and space do not permit me to list each Scripture reference, I would encourage you to seek the Lord in the book of Proverbs. Though not a comprehensive list, Proverbs does list the benefits of heeding wisdom:

*We will avoid trouble.

*We can live a blessed life.

*We can live a life free from fear.

*We can find the favor of God.

*We will have understanding.

*We will walk with integrity.

*We will develop patience.

            My prayer for all who read this is that you will seek the Lord’s direction for your life- whatever that may be. Do not reject the free gifts of God- His love, salvation, mercy, or wisdom. Grace and peace unto you.

[1] www.dictionary.reference.com/browse/wisdom%20?s=t/ Accessed 17 January 2015.