I don’t know if it’s official or not, but I would say we are entering the cold and flu season. As many are aware, there have been several people in our area that have either gotten a severe cold or flu like symptoms. (I myself am currently under the weather.) I’m guessing there has been a rise in the sales of hand sanitizer, as many are trying to avoid catching the bug. Many that have a bug are trying their best to stay away from people in hopes to not spread anything.
It’s pretty easy to tell if we have been bitten by a bug. We begin to show and feel symptoms. Sometimes it’s headaches, sometimes it’s stomach issues, sometimes it’s a high fever. Whatever the symptoms, we usually feel pretty crummy. When it comes to viruses, people do their best to prevent germs from being passed on.
A physical virus is easy to detect, but there are also noticeable symptoms when we have a “spiritual virus.” When we are hurting spiritually, we can also feel pretty crummy. Emotionally, we can feel sad, discouraged, angry, guilty, or any other negative feelings. Many times we feel the barrage of several mixed emotions that leave us feeling down. Our emotional distress can also lead to physical symptoms. We can feel tired, drained, or even in pain. It’s been proven many times that emotional distress can lead to many health issues.
When we have the flu, we seem to do what we can to take care of ourselves. We rest, take medication, and often call our doctor. Even when we are not the ones with the flu, we often reach out to those that are suffering. We ask them how they are doing, we tell them to get plenty of rest, we do everything we can to make them comfortable and take care of them so they can get better. How can we do the same when we or someone we know is suffering spiritually?
Like the flu, if we want to stay healthy, it is best that we avoid unhealthy things. And like germs, there are numerous unhealthy things in our lives that can attack us individually. Some of us are more susceptible to certain unhealthy things, while some of us are more susceptible to other types of unhealthy things. Just like a virus, sin can attack us where we are most weak. For instance, if our weakness is self-centeredness, sin can make us attracted to a belief and pressure that everything is about us. If we have a weakness of being judgmental and talking badly about others, sin can give us a negative look at how we see our neighbors. The number of sins in our lives can be greater than the number of germs in our lives. And like using hand sanitizer for germs, we can do many things to avoid sin.
The easiest way to check for spiritual illness is to ask three simple questions: Do we find it difficult to love God? Do we find it difficult to love ourselves? Do we find it difficult to love our neighbors? If we answer yes to either of those questions, chances are we could use some “spiritual medication.” As Christians, our best spiritual medication is to do our best to live a Christian life. Are we devoting ourselves to prayer? Are we practicing fellowship? Are we looking beyond the material things of this world? Are we reaching out to the stranger? And are we loving others as Christ loves us?
To remain spiritually healthy, we must continue to take an honest look at ourselves and our actions. We must avoid rationalizing or manipulating situations in order to tell us that an unhealthy behavior is okay. When we acknowledge our unhealthy behaviors, we must do everything we can to avoid them. We also must avoid using phrases like “I was wronged” or “I deserve this” or “I’m only human,” or “they deserve this” to rationalize the sinful choices we make. Remember, our actions and behaviors can be the echoes of our devotion to follow Christ. The more we devote ourselves to Jesus Christ, the less we sin. The more we devote ourselves to ourselves, the more we sin. We will never be perfect and we will make mistakes, but the more we include Christ in every part of our lives, the easier it will be to avoid unhealthy situations.
When we take part in unhealthy choices, we not only hurt ourselves, but we contribute to spreading sin like a germ. We can infect those that look to us as examples of Christians. We can make it easier for others to say this sin is okay. Whether we are murdering innocent people, or even gossiping about our neighbor, we are contributing to the spread of an unhealthy spirit. Everything we do has ripple effects. Our selfish behavior can lead us to choices that we think are satisfying but in truth, can be quite harmful. True spiritual medication is doing things Jesus’s way. Not our way.
Are we loving ourselves? Are we loving our neighbor? Are we loving God?
The more we seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, the better our path and the healthier we will be.