WHEN King Solomon built his magnificent temple in Jerusalem, a variety of building materials such as cedar, marble, brass, gold, and silver was used. Each had its place in the creation of a perfect edifice of strength and beauty for the worship and glory of God. Similarly, in the development and care of the body temple a variety of health factors is necessary. Neglect of even one of these requirements can mar the full stature of the perfect man. Some of these essentials to buoyant health are physical, others are mental, and still others are spiritual.
Let us consider, for example, the importance of exercise in maintaining body tone. In the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy we find more than two hundred references that emphasize the value and the necessity of exercise to promote physical, mental, and spiritual health. In spite of this admonition, few of us sense the importance of exercise as a vital part of health reform, or maybe we limit this doctrine, so much emphasized among us, to those aspects wherein we differ from the accepted practices of modern society, such as smoking, drinking, and errors in diet.
For most of us, a brisk walk of three miles would work wonders. Another contributing feature to sound health is correct posture. Here there is astounding ignorance. Recently, there was an investigation of the effects of posture on health conducted at the University College Hospital. It was demonstrated that one of the most common causes of fatigue is failure to breathe deeply, and this, in turn, is associated with poor posture. Further, it was proved that faulty posture is a most common cause of backache. Could it be that many people who are swallowing patent kidney pills would be both better in health and in pocket by sitting straight and walking erect?
Our health is directly influenced by the way we dress. Take, for example, footwear. At birth, only 2 percent of babies have some abnormality of their feet. Yet at the age of sixteen 70 percent of young people have defective feet. In many cases this can be traced to ill-fitting or faulty footwear.
No discussion on health would be complete without a reference to diet. Some might be inclined to feel that we rather overemphasize the role of diet, until it assumes a religious aspect. In reply to this, let us again consider the building of Solomon's temple. How careful were both architects and builders to assemble only the best materials the ancient world could provide. These were laboriously obtained from distant lands, for nothing of an inferior nature was to be built into a structure dedicated to the worship of Israel's God.
Likewise, the Christian, conscious that he himself is the handiwork of the Creator, will be just as particular as to what goes into the building of the body temple, in that it should be the best obtainable. Every cell and tissue of our bodies is built from the food we eat. Hence, a health-giving diet is not just a fad; it is an essential part of Christian living.
When God said to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," He was really bestowing a wonderful blessing upon mankind. Work, with its attendant mental interest and bodily activity, is essential to health. When one dispenses with the privilege of work and neglects the interests and activities he has been accustomed to, he does so only at the expense of becoming prone to physical infirmities and mental deterioration. It is a blessing to rejoice in that God has given each one not only a lifework to accomplish but also gifts and skills to be developed and used as long as strength and intellect last.
Natural law reveals a balance between opposite forces. So, in the laws of health, there must be a balance between mental and physical work, between activity and rest, between concentration and relaxation, and between temporal necessities and spiritual interests.
Herein lies a challenge to reassess one's daily program, as to whether the physical, the mental, and the spiritual demands are realistically and evenly balanced.
The Unhappy Sick
One of the main causes of ill health is a troubled mind. Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, in his book Religion, Psychology and Healing, says, "More people are sick because they are unhappy than are unhappy because they are sick." This raises the question: How can one promote mental health? It is just as possible to promote mental health as it is to promote physical health.
In your conversation, dwell on those themes that are praiseworthy, rather than on that which is blameworthy. "Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings." The Ministry of Healing, p. 251.
In your actions, take delight in doing something that will bring happiness to others. "When the mind is free and happy from a sense of duty well done and the satisfaction of giving happiness to others, the cheering, uplifting influence brings new life to the whole being." Ibid., p. 257.
In your worship, thank God for daily blessings and trust in His love. John Wesley expressed the thought beautifully in these words, "The love of God creates unspeakable joy, and perfect calm, serenity, and tranquillity of mind. It thus becomes the most powerful of all the means of health and long life."
Health is the harmonious adaptation of the world within us to the world without, and no person can attain perfect harmony with his environment except through the One who created both him and his environment. Hence, as we search deeper and deeper in our quest for health, that search will be fully rewarded only as it leads us back to God, the giver of all life and health.
James 2:10 reads as follows: "For who soever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Is it not reasonable to apply this text both to God's commandments and also to the laws of health? It must be, for in Counsels on Health, pages 25, 26, we read, "Our first duty ... is to obey the laws of God. These include the laws of health."
Instead of condoning an unbalanced approach to health reform, how much greater blessings of health and of spirit we shall enter into by considering and observing all the laws of health. By doing this we shall be fitted to walk in the presence of the One who said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."