Being young, it can be easy to take health for granted. A youthful body seems capable of taking a lot of abuse, in most cases. Some young people don’t feel that poor diet, scrimping on sleep and exercise—even substance abuse—pose much of a problem for them. Take smoking: Though studies conclusively prove the deadly effects of cigarettes, 3,000 teenagers become regular smokers every day. Why? The biggest reason they cite: It’s not going to catch up with me. But statistically, the habit will cause one in three of them to die early (“The Truth Unfiltered,” In the Mix, pbs).
The fact is, the choices we make do affect us. And you need good health to use your life most productively.
Let’s take a moment to look at what God says on the subject. God created the human body. He knows what it needs to work right. And in the Bible, He not only says He wants us to be healthy, He reveals many basic laws and principles that help keep us healthy. The Bible isn’t a health textbook or medical manual, but it gives a solid foundation for healthy living.
So get out your Bible. You will find the answers to the questions we raise by looking up the scripture references. To better remember those answers, we suggest writing out the verses. Now—let’s begin.
God’s Ways Produce Health
1. The Bible shows us a way of life. God doesn’t force us to live by it, however—it is something we must choose. But is God really interested in our well-being? Will following His ways help us live longer? Deuteronomy 30:19; Jeremiah 21:8.
Several places in Scripture liken God’s commandments to life, and disobedience to those commands to death. God wants us to obey Him and live!
2. How much does God want you to be healthy? John 10:10; 3 John 2.
Christ advocated the abundant life! The Apostle John wished health and prosperity for God’s people “above all things”! That gives you an idea of how serious God is about wanting you to be full of vibrant, healthful life!
3. Can heeding God actually help your health? Proverbs 3:7-8; 4:20-22.
The Moffatt version of the Bible translates Proverbs 3:8, “That will mean health for your body and fresh life to your frame.” Consider, as one example, the terrible problem of sexually transmitted diseases. They are spread through sexual contact. The more promiscuous people are, the quicker these diseases spread. Did you know that two thirds of all stds occur in people under age 25? Yet if people heeded God’s command to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18), and later married (Genesis 2:24) and practiced His way of lifelong, faithful monogamy, stds would soon be completely wiped out!
Read the whole of Proverbs 3 and 4, and see all the life- and health-producing benefits of living God’s way—long days, strength, wealth, happiness, a good reputation, good favor, friends, wisdom, charm, peace, safety, glory and honor! Notice the Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12). It says that if you honor your parents, you’ll live longer! God’s ways produce health!
Emotions and Your Health
The Bible describes a powerful link between your mental health and your physical health.
1. How does being happy and full of cheer affect your health? Proverbs 17:22. What about being downcast and depressed? Same verse.
Negative thoughts and emotions weaken your body’s immune system and heighten your odds for getting sick. Children may get so nervous about attending school they’ll get stomachaches. A businessman may stress himself into having a heart attack. “Everything from colds to cancer has been attributed to mentally induced stress. And in between in seriousness are such maladies as arthritis, asthma, fatigue, hay fever, headaches, high cholesterol, heart attacks and circulatory disorders, hypertension, hives, insomnia and ulcers” (Principles of Healthful Living, Worldwide Church of God, 1975). Conversely, positive thoughts and emotions can strengthen your immunity and dramatically improve your health.
2. Can words affect physical health? Does conversation focused on the positive improve your health? Proverbs 16:24; 12:18, 25.
3. What difference does having a peaceful and tranquil mind have, as opposed to always feeling unsatisfied? Proverbs 14:30; 13:12.
“Sound heart” simply means “a mind at ease”—not always inflamed with discontent and worry. The Apostle Paul set a great example of being content with what he had (Philippians 4:11-13). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t working for something better; it just means never feeling dissatisfied and envious because you lack something. Those emotions are actually bad for your health!
4. How can we maintain a happy, peaceful, hope-filled mind? Philippians 4:4, 8.
The world can be very negative. People focus on bad news and nasty rumors. Depression is common among teenagers. Such deadly attitudes can ruin your health. The bottom line is, the more we maintain a good outlook—the more uplifting and positive our lives are—the healthier we will be.
God’s Health Laws
Because God manufactured the human body, He is well ahead of scientists as an authority in the fields of nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, and treating disease.
1. Does God intend humans to eat meat? Did Jesus Christ eat meat? Luke 24:41-42; John 21:9-13. Did God tell His chosen nation Israel they could eat meat? Leviticus 11:1-3, 9. Did God forbid using some animals as food? Verses 4-8, 10, 13-19. What other laws concern using animals for food? Leviticus 3:17; 7:23, 26.
Just as God intended some types of plants to be eaten and others not, so it is with animals. Some doctors believe these dietary prohibitions would have decreased instances of disease among the Israelites. The bans on fat and blood are well recognized as valuable health practices today. Animal fat is high in cholesterol and can contribute to heart disease. God intends us to cut it off the meat we eat. Blood should never be consumed either. (For more information, read our reprint article, “Is All Animal Flesh Good for Food?”)
2. What does God say about cleanliness and hygiene?
Until a couple hundred years ago, people generally had very low standards of hygiene, even in developed areas. Waste, not properly disposed of, lay in the open, and diseases bred commonly and quickly. Yet God gave ancient Israel laws regarding cleanliness, washings and purification that protected it from many such things (see Deuteronomy 23:12-13; Leviticus 15:2-5). God instructed the sick to isolate, or quarantine, themselves (Numbers 5:2). Such a practice, if followed, would have halted the terrible spread of such diseases as bubonic plague in the 14th century, which killed one of every three people throughout Europe! God’s Church practices quarantine today, even with illnesses like colds and influenza—those sick simply stay home, so their sickness doesn’t spread to others.
“In the Bible greater stress was placed upon prevention of disease than was given to the treatment of bodily ailments, and in this no race of people, before or since, has left us such a wealth of laws relative to hygiene and sanitation as the Hebrews. … [T]he rules to protect health [as stated in Leviticus] are superior to any which then existed in the world and … to this day they have been little improved upon” (D. T. Atkinson, Magic, Myth and Medicine).
3. What does God say about eating or drinking too much? Proverbs 25:16, 27; 23:21, 29-30; Philippians 4:5.
Many scriptures warn against overdoing it in what you eat and drink—you actually wear your body out when you habitually force it to process too much, resulting in obesity or other health problems. Read in Daniel 1 the story of Daniel avoiding the rich (and probably unclean) foods of the king of Babylon, preferring a simple, healthy diet. Be in control of what goes into your mouth. As the saying goes, eat to live—don’t live to eat.
God’s Contingency Plan
Sometimes, even against our best efforts, we get hurt or sick. God doesn’t want to see us laid up in bed. He devised a contingency plan so that, even when we’ve blown it and are paying for it, we can still yet “prosper and be in health.”
1. Can God heal? Did God promise the ancient Israelites health and healing if they obeyed Him? Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 7:15.
In the original Hebrew, the phrase “I am the Lord that healeth thee” in Exodus 15:26 shows that one of God’s names is “God-Healer”!
2. Did Jesus Christ heal? Matthew 4:23-24; 15:30. Did the apostles heal? Acts 5:12-16. Does God give instructions for seeking healing today? James 5:14-15.
God’s Church follows Christ’s example and instruction. God’s ministers are often asked to anoint and pray for the sick, and God still works miraculous healings in our day. If you want a full understanding of the biblical teaching on healing, please request The Plain Truth About Healing.
3. Does God promise healing and vigorous health in His future Kingdom? Jeremiah 30:17; 33:6; Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2.
God wants nothing more than to see people thrive and live lives of full, richly abundant health and happiness. In His Kingdom, the knowledge of that way of life will cover the Earth! And yet, even today, we can apply that same knowledge and experience those wonderful blessings. Live God’s ways, and preserve the health of your youth.