A Heart At Peace...

We are what we think. Whether we want to accept the truth or not, our inner life has a direct impact on our external, physical life.
by Lorraine E. Espenhain | Source: Catholic.net

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." [Pr 14:30].

My husband is one of those people in life who is always happy, whistling, content, and laid back. In the 23 years that we’ve been married, I’ve never seen him depressed. Not even once. Not only this, but I can count the number of times on one hand when I’ve ever seen him exhibit a long-term bad attitude about anything, whether it was his job, a problem neighbor, adverse financial situation, etc. Not surprisingly, my husband very rarely gets sick.

I, on the other hand, tend to fret, worry, and stew about anything and everything. It’s a bad habit, and one that I am desperately trying to break. I internalize everything that goes on around me from the way someone looks at me to the unexpected invoice that appears in my mailbox or the email response that I do not receive. I obsess. Not surprisingly, I suffer from allergies, headaches, catch everything that goes around town, and visit the chiropractor at least two or three times a month because of back or neck pain. Coincidence? Not according to Solomon.

Whether we want to accept the truth or not, our inner life has a direct impact on our external, physical life. We are what we think. Where the inward life goes, the outward will follow. According to Solomon, the condition of the heart and mind directly affect the condition of the physical body.

Solomon teaches that a heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. So do anger, bitterness, resentment, fear, worry, discontentment, and every other wrong attitude or thought. These are all negative emotions, and they will negatively affect our physical bodies sooner or later if we don’t break free and rise above them.

I remember watching a program on television that was hosted by a Christian physician. If she had a patient who was severely ill, she would instruct him or her as follows: "Do not watch any television. The only book you should read is the Bible. Avoid all music except gospel or classical." When I first heard her make these statements on television, I thought she was being somewhat radical. But when I reflected on her words, I realized that, from a Christian perspective, what she was saying was quite true.

Whether we are in good health or not, we need to be careful of what we watch, read, or listen to. We need to be careful of who we hang around. Toxic books, music, movies, or people will have a negative impact on our physical bodies.

Did you ever call up a business, only to be put on hold and forced to listen to raunchy music being played while you waited? There have actually been times when I found myself literally become depressed just listening to the music that was playing. Or how about walking through a mall and hearing loud, raunchy music being played from each of the different stores?  I've listened to music that literally killed my desire to shop and drove me out of the store instead.

Whether we want to accept this truth or not, music affects our spirit, as well as unsuitable books, television programs, or movies. And if it affects our spirit, eventually, it will affect our physical body.

Is it any wonder that the Apostle Paul instructed us as follows: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." [Php 4:8]. Paul got it. He knew the power of a man’s thought life and how that thought life could impact one’s spirit and physical body for good or for bad. As a result, he instructed believers to stay away from those things that could be toxic to the mind, heart, and spirit.

The number-one way to get one’s heart, mind, and spirit on things above is to spend time studying and meditating on the Word of God. When we read the Word of God, we are lifted above our circumstances. Our thoughts begin to line up with Heaven, and our minds literally become renewed. Satan can wreak very little havoc in the life of a man or woman who is devoted to prayer and the thoughtful reading of Scripture. These things strengthen us spiritually, and when we are strengthened spiritually, this will have a direct, positive impact on us physically.

If I spend all of my time reading secular books and magazines, while neglecting those things which will nurture my spirit, eventually, I will become depressed and start to feel empty. It happens every single time. And when I feel depressed and empty, I get into trouble because I then seek fulfillment in silly, temporary things that have no value. A new CD. A new outfit. A flat-screen TV. Truth be told, most Americans have exorbitant credit card debt because they are empty and searching for happiness in things when only a right relationship with God can give them the peace they desire. We mistake the cry of the soul for peace as a cry of the flesh for things and off we go in search of a new book, a new gadget, a new movie, or a new experience. Always spending, always seeking, but never finding. This is because we are trying to meet a spiritual need with physical things. It just doesn’t work.

If you have not already done so, I want to encourage you to make it a daily habit to spend time meditating on God’s Word. Don’t just whizz through the verses; read them slowly and thoughtfully. What is God saying to you? How is the Spirit challenging you in the verses of Scripture you are reading? How have you fallen short? Where do you need to repent? Afterwards, spend time with Christ in prayer talking to Him from your heart about the things which you have just read. The more we get into God’s Word, the further removed we will become from the things in this world that simply do not matter and are dragging us down.

God is calling us to enter into a higher realm, and it is only when we are living in this realm that we will enjoy life as He intended. Spend an hour reading a secular book and see if it will profit you spiritually. It might entertain, amuse, and distract you, but how has it fed your soul and nurtured your spirit? How has it drawn you closer to God and empowered your spirit? Then, spend an hour meditating on God’s Word and praying to Him and see the difference it will make to your heart, mind, and soul. If it positively affects the heart, mind, and soul, it will positively affect the physical body as well.

According to Solomon, bad thoughts rot the body. They’re destructive and corrosive. But when you get into the Word of God, which is living and active, those bad thoughts are flushed out and right thoughts, pure thoughts, and holy thoughts quickly fill that void.

If we want life in our bodies, we must minister to our soul. If we want health in our bones, we must focus on the mind, heart, and spirit. How quick we are to pop vitamins, eat right foods, and get proper amounts of exercise while completely neglecting the needs of our spirit! If we neglect the needs of our spirit, then we do these physical things in vain. Of what use is a vitamin to my body, if my mind is enslaved to bitterness, fear, and resentment? What will a jog in the park do for my physical body if my heart is angry, my spirit is starved, and my mind is enslaved to the principles and priorities of this world?

To counteract means to undo the effect of something with an opposing action. If I light a fire, and then immediately pour water over the fire, I’ve just undone the effect of lighting the fire. If I work out two hours a day, but spend the rest of my time eating junk food and downing Cokes, I’ve just undone the effect of my earlier workout. And so it is with the man who eats the right meals, gets sufficient sleep, takes his vitamins, and goes for his daily walk while giving no thought to his interior life.

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Saint Paul instructed them as follows: "Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit..." [2 Co 7:1]. How quick we are to defend and guard ourselves against things which may contaminate the body, while ignoring those that pollute the heart, mind, soul, and spirit.   A man washes his apple before he eats it while giving no thought to the suggestive or violent movies that he habitually watches.  A woman shies away from cigarette smoke while paying no mind to the unsuitable steamy paperback novels she reads week after week.

The body, soul, and spirit all affect one another. If we neglect the soul and spirit, the body eventually will be affected as well. There is simply no avoiding this truth. People who are bitter, selfish, jealous, suspicious, angry, unforgiving, and who go through life in a perpetual state of seething resentment will eventually possess broken down physical bodies if they do not repent. It’s a proven medical fact. Your interior life will affect your outward physical life.

Where the mind goes, eventually the physical body will follow. This is the message of Proverbs 14:30 - a message which needs to be heeded more than ever in these dark and distressing times. To the extent that we are feeding the spirit and soul (through daily prayer and time spent in God’s Word) is to the extent we will know genuine peace. And to the extent that we possess this genuine peace is to the extent our bodies will enjoy health and life.

This does not mean that we will never catch a cold or the flu. But it can mean the difference between possessing a body that is healthy, strong, and able to fight disease or one that is perpetually broken down and weak.

May God give us the grace to act upon the challenge set forth by Solomon so that we might experience the ‘life in our bodies’ to which he refers. If we want to enjoy outward physical health, we must first focus on maintaining a healthy, spiritual inner life, for according to Solomon...


...we can’t have one without the other.

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Published by: F.MEMEE
Date: 2011-05-14 08:02:10
I understand why I want more n more to just read my spiriutal books.It gives me inner peace.

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