|Credit: sleepinyourhat, Flickr Creative Commons|
“He who is loose and slack in his work is a brother to him who is a destroyer and he who does not use his endeavors to heal himself is a brother to him who commits suicide.” (bold emphasis mine)
So reads Proverbs 18:9 in the Amplified Bible, which also contains the following footnote: “This verse so reads in The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament). Its statement squarely addresses the problem of whether one has a moral right to neglect his body by ‘letting nature take its unhindered course’ in illness.”
Do we have the moral right to ignore our health and physical wellbeing? When people do so, especially in illness, are they essentially committing suicide? What a horrible thought, and yet, that does seem to be what this verse from Proverbs is saying. What do you think? Here are a few of my humble musings on the subject as I meditated on this Scripture.
Most of us believe in taking reasonable care of our physical bodies. While from time to time we can easily become couch potatoes and eat too much of the wrong foods, most of us also believe that some measure of exercise and a proper diet are the way to go. We believe that we shouldn’t smoke, or drink too much alcohol, and when we get sick, we believe that visiting our doctor is the right thing to do. After all, who wants to stay sick?
But as I read this verse, I was reminded of some folks who are known for their rejection of certain medical procedures (such as blood transfusions) on faith and religious grounds. So-called “faith healers” also come to mind. I am not suggesting that we should not have faith for healing; of course we should. I would even argue that it is to the Lord that we should turn first for healing, but I also recognize that His way of healing, while sometimes miraculous, is also often through the guidance of the medical practitioner.
Having said that, there is an interesting story of King Asa who was chastised for only going to see the doctors about his ailment, and not to the Lord. It reads, “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians” (2 Chronicles 16:12; NIV). Soon afterwards, he died.
So much for the doctor’s help! Would he have lived had he gone to the Lord for healing? The Bible doesn’t tell us that, so we don’t really know.
There was another Old Testament king by the name of Hezekiah. He too had a life-threatening illness. The prophet Isaiah went to him and told him to put his house in order because he was about to die. Hezekiah cried out to the Lord for healing, and God answered his prayer for healing and added fifteen more years to his life. God then directed Isaiah with the preparation of medicine through which to bring about the healing (2 Kings 20: 1-7).
It seems clear that God expects His children to come to Him first with their health concerns, but He also brings healing through the medical community and the prayerful intervention of His saints.
Fast forward to the New Testament.
The Apostle Paul said, “Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own. You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body” (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20; Amplified)
Going back to Proverbs, are we toying with suicide when we deliberately ignore our health? Perhaps more importantly, are we desecrating the temple of the Holy Spirit when we simply let nature take its unhindered course with regards to our health?
Are we killing ourselves? Maybe that's a little extreme, but then again ...