Guarding our Spiritual Health

by Martha Nelson

What is it that keeps us in good physical health? Exercise, eating nourishing food, and following our Doctor's advice are probably the "biggies." Most of us know that "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Then there are the unexpected problems. In the case of cancer, for instance, we know the sooner it is detected, the more likely we are to recover and live. Most of us take care in our physical health to be "on our guard" when something unhealthy crops up. Instead of ignoring the lump or unusual pain, we go to the doctor and then "deal with it" as prescribed--no matter what discomfort or expense it may cost us at the time.

Are we as careful about guarding our spiritual health? I found myself asking this question after an interesting conversation with one of my customers.

Touching Others Daily

I am a Sales Representative for a fashion jewellery company in England. I am also a Christian, and like some of you reading this newsletter, I believe God can use my life to touch others through my day to day job--people who would never go to church or perhaps meet Christians any other way. I believe that God is able to speak to other people through me not because I preach to them (I hope I don't) or because I'm perfect (I'm not!)--but because His Holy Spirit is inside me.

As I pray for my customers and walk close to God myself in obedience, I believe He is able to use me in ordinary situations--often "in spite of" myself. Sometimes a conversation opens up naturally about spiritual things--or other times it is just right to love my customers and give them the best service I can to help their business.

A few months ago I called on one of my department stores and was talking to the assistant, Sarah, who happens also to be a Christian. Our conversation was often interrupted as she stopped to help a customer. Her relaxed and loving attitude to each one was clearly an encouragement to them. As I observed her interacting with her customers, I could see the fresh life flowing out of her, even though she wasn't saying spiritual things. There was so clearly the supernatural life of Jesus within Sarah that was more than a natural grace.

As Sarah and I talked more she told me about the job she'd had before this one--working for a so-called "Christian" company. It happened to be an advertising agency, and Sarah worked for them for several years. I asked her why she left.

Little Things

Sarah had been disturbed by "little things" that the owners thought harmless. As a secretary, she was often told to lie to clients about why her bosses couldn't make an appointment, e.g. to say they'd been in hospital, when really they had just missed the deadline and wanted to cover up. They also began to take on advertising which Sarah felt went against her Christian beliefs, such as horoscopes. When she asked them about these things, the reply was, "Oh, it really doesn't matter. We'll deal with that later." Eventually Sarah's conscience wouldn't let her stay on, and she left. "Their main problem," she told me, "was that they refused to deal with things. They kept putting it off."

I kept thinking about those words after we parted. I think many Christians lose their relationship with God and cease to be like Jesus because they refuse to deal with things they know are wrong in their lives. Then by ignoring those things and putting them off, their conscience becomes dull and hardened. Sarah's story was a good reminder to myself to keep short accounts with God, and to not put anything off that I sensed was dishonest or questionable in my life.

Any relationship worth having--including or especially our relationship with God--needs daily maintenance and renewal. At times it will also require sacrifice. Just as divorce doesn't happen overnight, so too a broken relationship with God is eroded by little things we choose to ignore--making it easier for the bigger problems to grow.

As I drove back to the office I felt challenged to not let anything get between myself and God. When it comes to my spiritual health, I can't afford to be off my guard.

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