Phil Cox


(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)

Home page
Recent Columns
Previous Series
Phil's background
Preaching engagements
Creation and science
Contact Phil

Stubbington Baptist Church
Acorn Christian Healing Foundation
Evangelical Alliance Basis of Faith

Health is better than healing

21st September 2013

Some time ago, I wrote about this Proverb:

Proverbs 4v23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Some think that the heart here is a metaphor for a person's thought life. Some think it's a metaphor for a person's emotional state. I think it's both, really. Our thoughts will affect our emotional state, and our emotions will affect our thoughts. To guard one is to guard the other. The proverb says that our heart is the wellspring of life. Whatever else that might mean, I think it must include the idea that the state of our hearts will affect the future state of our general health. I'm convinced that our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being are far more inter-connected and inter-dependant than most people realise.

For example, doctors have long told us about the connection between stress and depression, and between stress and heart attacks, but my involvement in counselling and praying for people has convinced me that, if we come under prolonged periods of stress, it can damage our bodies in many different ways. And the book of Proverbs contains many scriptures that seem to say that our physical well-being is affected by how we and those around us behave. here are some of them:

Proverbs 3v7-8
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

A Proverb is not an absolute guarantee; it's a general rule. "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword" doesn't mean that absolutely everybody who fights with a sword will be killed by a sword thrust. It doesn't even mean that everybody who enlists as a soldier will die in battle. But it does mean that there is a statistical correlation between those who fight and those who die in battle.

In the same way, Proverbs 3v7-8 doesn't mean that everybody who loves the Lord and who lives a good life will be healthy, or that everybody who hates the Lord and lives a sinful life will be seriously ill. But it does say that there's a connection between a godly life and good health. We're more likely to have healthy bodies if we live godly lives. I'm certain that's true.

Proverbs 3v21-22
My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;
they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.

Again, it's not an absolute law that those with sound judgment and discernment will live longer and healthier lives, but it's obviously true as a general rule.

Proverbs 4v20-22
My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them and health to a manís whole body.

This is the most explicit proverb I can find to support what I'm saying. The inspired biblical text says that if we will pay close attention to God's words, and take them to heart, then they will give health to our whole bodies. I don't think there's a satisfactory way to treat this as merely metaphorical. I think this proverb means exactly what it says.

Again, it's a proverb - it doesn't apply in all cases. Some godly people are sick, and some ungodly people are physically healthy. But on average godly people will be healthier than ungodly people. And my health and yours would probably be better if we were more godly than we are, although we might still have serious health issues.

(I do know of some people who have prayed for sickness, in the hope that it would sanctify them further, but I'm not talking about them in this article)

Proverbs 14v30
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

How metaphorical is this? Is it completely metaphorical? Does it only mean that envy is bad for us in some non-physical sense? Or does it mean that choosing to live at peace makes us healthier, and indulging in the sin of envy makes us less healthy? Or is it going further and saying that some bone disease can be caused (or exacerbated) by envy? I'm convinced that, on average, peaceful people are happier and healthier than others. And I choose to believe that the inspired text means what it says literally - some osteoporosis and arthritis can be caused or exacerbated by envy.

Proverbs 15v4
The tongue that brings healing (AV,NKJ: wholesome tongue, RSV: gentle tongue. YLT: healed tongue) is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

What we say, and what others say to us, will affect our health. If we speak with a wholesome, gentle, healed tongue, we and those around us will be happier and healthier.

Proverbs 16v24
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

If we surround ourselves with people who speak pleasantly - without anger, malice, judgementalism or coarseness, we will live happier, more peaceful, healthier lives.

Proverbs 17v22
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Again, I think the Holy Spirit means this literally. If we have cheerful hearts, there will be a physical benefit.

I've piled scripture upon scripture a bit this week. I've done so in the hope that the weight of evidence will help us to believe that the choices we make today can have an effect on our future health - spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. There's no guarantee we won't get sick tomorrow, or be run over by a bus, but we can do a great deal to make ourselves and those around us healthier in every way.

And prevention is better than cure.