Study 3 HOW ARE YOU, MY BROTHER?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 Samuel 20:9)
This question, asked by Joab of Amasa, could be asked of anyone. Today we might ask, ‘How are you keeping?’ - and the one we’re speaking to asks us the same question. What about your spiritual health - how are you spiritually? It is very possible for us to become spiritually unfit or unwell, and this may well describe the condition of the Church today. So, since it is important that we have a medical check-up from time to time, we must allow the Great Physician to examine us in His presence. This will mean praying the prayer that David prayed (Psalm 139:23-24). Are you prepared for a spiritual overhaul?
1. How are you? What is the temperature of your love for the Lord?
Very often a doctor will take the temperature of his patient as he begins the examination. What is the temperature of your love for God? - not of your love for His service, for His house, for His people or for His doctrines, but for Him, for the Lord Himself? Look up John 21:15-17. It is possible for any of us to lose our first love for Him (Revelation 2:4) - but what is the thermometer by which we can test that love? It is called obedience - look up John 14:15. We need to take our spiritual temperature at any time by asking ourselves whether we are obeying the Lord joyfully. Is it our burning desire to please Him, or do we love to please ourselves and go our own way (1 John 2:5)? The measure of our love for Him may be determined by our desire to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. I ask the question: How are you?
2. How are you? Is your pulse regular and normal?
This is something else that the doctor nearly always does when he first examines his patient. It gives him a good idea of the patient’s general condition simply by feeling his pulse. This should lead us to ask the question: Is our Christian experience steady, or is it erratic? Is it consistent or inconsistent? You may say, ‘But my temperament is a very difficult one.’ But whose temperament is not a very difficult one? The Lord knows all about it and He can make us the kind of people He wants us to be. He does this by leading us to experience the amazing truth of Romans 6:11 and Galatians 2:20. How are you?
3. How are you? - Do you have a good appetite?
This is a question the doctor will frequently ask, and our answer to it is a sure indication of good or bad health. Are we eating well and enjoying the right kind of food? What is the Christian’s right kind of food? It is the Word of God, and if we do not have enough of this we are sure to break down spiritually and to be ineffective in our fellowship with the Lord, with His people and in our Christian service. The way to become strong, robust and healthy is to feed deeply on the Word of God - to read it, meditate upon it, learn it and practice it (Psalm 119:2,4,10,11,18,24,27,33,40,54,97,103,129). How are you?
4. How are you? - Is your digestion all right?
Some people eat well and they need to assimilate the food so that it becomes a part of them and brings health to every part of their body. It is important that we as Christians not only eat God’s food but that we know how to digest it, and the Word becomes a part of us (Job 23:12; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15). How is your digestion? What do you know of meditating in the Word? How are you?
5. How are you? - Do you have a contented mind?
Physical health, as well as spiritual health, is often wrecked by stress and anxiety. With some people it is a disease, because they keep complaining! Nothing is ever right, but it is sad if a Christian gets into this bad habit (Hebrews 13:5-6). Compare Philippians 4:11, where Paul knew the secret of spiritual health. How are you? If we really want a spiritual overhaul which will keep us spiritually healthy, we must tell the Lord everything - not that He needs us to tell Him, but there is great therapy in confession (Joshua 7:19-21; Ezra 10:11-12; 1 John 1:9). When leaving God’s surgery He will give us parting advice;-
- (1) Avoid everything that disagrees with your health - this is sound advice - to refuse anything that lowers the temperature of love for the Lord Jesus or that robs us of peace and power! This may mean avoiding wrong friends, and it will certainly mean avoiding certain places and certain literature.
- (2) Learn from the mistakes of the past and of other people. Many Christians are spiritually inactive and have fallen by the way. It is important, therefore, that we obey the often-repeated injunction in Scripture and pay careful attention (Hebrews 2:1). Compare Exodus 10:28; 2 Chronicles 19:6; Job 36:21; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 24:4; Mark 4:24.
- (3) Watch your imagination. Look up Proverbs 23:7. Perhaps we hear of someone who is suffering from a certain illness, and imagine that because we have a small pain in the same place we are suffering from the same serious disease! Our imagination needs to be brought under control, as one version of Isaiah 26:3 reminds us: ‘You will keep him in soundness of health whose imagination stops at God.’
- (4) Have sufficient rest and exercise. Determine to live a well-rounded life and see that you live every day to the glory of God. Seek to be spiritually at your best for the Lord.
- (5) Forget yourself. How easy it is to be totally preoccupied with our own concerns! - but surely the advice the Lord would give us is to stop thinking about ourselves - look up John 3:30, and compare Hebrews 12:2.
- (6) Drink plenty of water. If you want to know the spiritual significance of this injunction, look up John 7:37-39.
- (7) Take yourself in hand, spiritually and physically. Recognise that your whole personality belongs not to you but to the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).