Summary: Just as the physical and mental health crisis continue to worsen in this country, another health crisis is growing at an alarming pace, and yet it doesn't even make the news. I'm talking about our spiritual health crisis--the true "silent killer."
Some of you may remember that in my last sermon I talked about how this time of the year is the time we typically look back on our lives and consider just how much God has blessed us and our families. And despite the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, I hope you've taken the time to do that over these last few weeks. And I'm sure that if you've been looking back from the right perspective, you’ve realized that God has indeed abundantly blessed you. In fact, I think we can all say with the psalmist, "the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.." We also talked about how counting our blessings should motivate us to help those who are less fortunate, and I hope you have been moved to that as well during this season of Thanksgiving..
And this morning, the very first Sabbath of 2020, I'm going to ask us, just one final time to look back on this past year. But this time, not only to take note of how blessed we’ve been, but I want us to think back on 2019 from the perspective of our spiritual health. Let’s ask ourselves, "how much have I grown spiritually since this time last year?" In the last 365 days, in what ways and to what degree, have I become a stronger, more committed, and more effective Christian?
I'm sure you realize that every year, the number one New Year's Resolution by far goes something like this, "This is the year that I finally get in shape." Every year people resolve to eat healthier and exercise more and to live a healthier lifestyle. But the sad reality is that more than 90 percent of those resolutions are totally abandoned by the end of January. And what may be even more sad is the fact that many others SHOULD BE making that very resolution---and keeping it, but they don't even bother making the resolution because they've tried so many times in the past and have failed. So month after month and year after year passes by, and instead of setting and working toward goals to improve themselves, they just coast through life, not giving too much thought to their health. And all the while their weight increases, their muscles atrophy, their brains fog and their arteries clog. And all too often, this continues, little by little, until one day, it's too late to do anything about it. But that doesn’t have to happen...
Thanks to modern medical technology, our physical health is relatively easy to monitor. We go to the doctor and he gives us an exam, takes our vitals, does some blood tests, and compares our results to a set standard that tells us where our numbers should fall for a person of our age. And with those results, the doctor determines our overall health and he sets some reasonable goals for us to work toward to get us in optimal health. (importance of yearly wellness examination-- lack of insurance coverage discourages a lot of people for getting one)
That yearly examination is important—I believe it’s especially important as we get older. Most often the decline of our health is so subtle that we don’t even notice that there is anything wrong......we may look and feel okay, but it could be that our blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar is gradually elevated to dangerous levels---- we may not know unless we go for that exam.
I asked you earlier to look back on 2019 and sort of assess how much you’ve grown spiritually this past year. Have you thought about it? Don’t answer out loud, but if you have thought about it, how is your spiritual health?
Keep in mind, I'm not asking you how often you come to church, how much you read your bible and pray, I'm not asking how many offices you have held or currently hold in the church--all these things are definitely very important but it's not what I'm asking you... I'm asking you, How is your spiritual health?
If you’re like most people—even most Christians; you don't really know the answer to this important question. And the reason you don’t know is probably because you haven’t had a thorough spiritual examination lately. And it could be that you haven’t bothered with an examination because you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for to determine how well or how poorly you may be doing— I want to make sure we understand this today, because our spiritual wellness exam is, I believe, even more important than our physical exam.
So what are we looking for? What’s the set standard we should use to tell us where we should be? Our tendency is to compare ourselves to other people. And most often we tend to compare ourselves with those folk that make us look and feel like literal saints. Sort of like that Pharisee who was praying about himself at the temple; “‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’....." Even though he was supposed to be and thought he was a shining example of a godly person... turns out, he was spiritually bankrupt..