John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God’s love for us is incomprehensible. He gave His ONLY Son … for us … for you … for me. These emotions hit me like a ton of bricks each time I think of this immeasurable love: deep gratitude, humility, joy, compassion, relief, excitement, vigor and so many more!
When we fully grasp the love that God has for us, we should be moved to want to love Him back – or for God, love Him forward. Huh? Love Him forward?
In Mark 12:30 and 31, Jesus gives these two commands:
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength;
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus then says, “There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love God, love ourselves and love our neighbor. But what does this have to do with health, you might ask? In loving God, we should want to take care of our health, as He is the one who gave us: our bodies to exercise; our hands to cook nourishing foods; our minds to capture each thought (2 Cor. 10:5) in order to reduce stress, rearrange busy schedules, control our eating and get enough sleep; Sabbath to rest; His Word to give us faith, hope, assurance and peace; prayer to ensure a two-way relationship with Him.
The above list, although not exhaustive, gives a glimpse of what we can do for ourselves, but what about our neighbor? The Greek definition of neighbor in this context means someone close by or near. Who could be nearer than your spouse, your children, your extended family, your close friends?
Loving God forward includes taking care of yourself and your “neighbors”, but it doesn’t stop with just your family and close friends. By sowing seeds of health and wellness into your relationships, you’re impacting generations to come!
To illustrate the importance of sowing good seeds, consider two men named Jonathan Edwards and Max Juke. Edwards was born in Connecticut in 1703, attended Yale and later became the president of Princeton University. Theologian Benjamin B. Warfield charted over 1,300 descendants of Edwards. This is what he found: a U.S. vice president, three senators, three governors, three mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 62 physicians, 75 military officers, and 100 missionaries and pastors.
Now, let’s look at Max Juke. Although not all of Max’s life can be completely traced (sociologist Richard Dugdale tried to trace it), the adage “you reap what you sow” still rings true. Juke was alive in the early 1700s. Out of the 1,200 descendants studied, his descendants include seven murders, 128 prostitutes, 60 thieves, 140 convicts, 280 indigents, and 440 whose lives were ruined by alcoholism.
If one person can affect their descendants that drastically, then it’s time to start loving God forward by getting healthy and well – both ourselves and our neighbors.
Prayer starter: Father God, thank you for your love and for Jesus. Please help me to love you and others, especially by setting a good example of health and wellness. Help me to do it out of a heart of love.