Better Health and Longer Life—How?
GOOD health can contribute much to a person’s happiness. Yet all of us get sick at times. And serious illness can lead to death. These problems are considered in the Bible, which provides guidelines that can aid a person to enjoy better health and longer life.
2 The Scriptures remind us that Jehovah God is the Source of life. Because of him “we have life and move and exist.” (Psalm 36:9; Acts 17:25, 28) And he tells us much about how to look after ourselves. There are costly and crippling diseases that can be avoided by paying attention to the counsel in his Word. Those who have done so have reason to agree with the Bible writer who said: “The law of [God’s] mouth is good for me, more so than thousands of pieces of gold and silver.”—Psalm 119:72; 73:28; Proverbs 4:20-22.
COUNSEL THAT PROMOTES GOOD HEALTH
3 The Bible is not primarily a guidebook on health. But it contains counsel that promotes good health. That can be clearly seen from God’s regulations for the nation of Israel. Here are some examples: Long before the practice of modern medicine, God’s law to Israel required that a person who had, or seemed to have, a contagious disease be quarantined. (Leviticus 13:1-5) Excrement was to be disposed of away from human habitations, thus preventing the spread of disease or the contamination of water. (Deuteronomy 23:12-14) If garments or vessels contacted an animal that had died of itself (perhaps from disease), they were to be either washed before reuse or destroyed. (Leviticus 11:27, 28, 32, 33) Israelite priests were to wash before serving at the altar, thus taking the lead in cleanliness.—Exodus 30:18-21.
4 Medical men have since learned the practical value of such measures, which can still be applied with benefit: Minimizing contact with others when you or they seem to have an illness that might be contagious. Taking care not to contaminate drinking water or food with human wastes or garbage. Keeping cooking and eating utensils clean. Caring for personal hygiene by regular bathing, also by washing one’s hands after using the toilet.
5 Venereal diseases are usually contracted by immoral conduct, which God condemns. (Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:5) But by being chaste before marriage and restricting sexual relations to one’s mate after marriage, Christians are protected against these dreadful diseases.
6 Also, better health can come from applying Scriptural counsel concerning a person’s general way of life. For example, the Bible commends hard work. It says that the man who puts in a good day’s work will sleep better. And it speaks highly of finding enjoyment in the food and drink you can get from your labor, while avoiding gluttonous overindulgence. Do you not agree that if you work hard, get enough sleep, enjoy your meals and are “moderate in habits,” you will be healthier and happier?—Ecclesiastes 2:24; 5:12; 9:7-9; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 3:2, 11.
TOBACCO, ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
7 Dr. Joel Posner reports that in the United States, for example, 60 percent of the money spent for health care is for illnesses related to the use of tobacco and alcohol. How is the Bible helpful in this regard?
8 Consistent with God’s advice on cleanliness or purity, the apostle Paul wrote to Christians: “Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that pollutes either body or spirit.” (2 Corinthians 7:1, Twentieth Century New Testament) Many persons have seen that using tobacco conflicts with that counsel. Drawing smoke into the lungs is unnatural. It pollutes the body and shortens a person’s life expectancy. Studies have established that smokers have more heart disease, lung cancer, hypertension and fatal pneumonia.
9 Also, consider the effects on person around the smoker—his family and associates. Jesus Christ said that the second commandment in God’s law given to Israel was: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Is that not what you want to do? But what are the effects of smoking? It harms the user and it injures the health of others who breathe the smoke.
10 What about using alcoholic beverages? Many persons find them tasty and relaxing. The Bible does not forbid beverages that contain alcohol, which the body can “burn” as fuel or food. (Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7) But it does warn: “Wine is a ridiculer, intoxicating liquor is boisterous, and everyone going astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1) And the Bible pointedly condemns drunkenness. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Peter 4:3) Anyone who drinks too much too often definitely is “not wise,” as the scriptures say. In time, such a person may ruin his liver, with serious, or even fatal consequences. The stomach may be damaged. The abuser of alcohol can become disposed to heart attacks and strokes. Both his memory and his muscle coordination may be impaired, too.
11 The Bible counsel on drunkenness is also helpful regarding drugs such as heroin, cocaine, betel nut, marijuana and LSD. These are widely used, not for “food” or medical purposes, but solely to bring an intoxicating “high,” hallucinations or an escape from reality. Such drugs may not have been used in Bible times. Yet the Bible speaks out strongly against drunkenness and the “debauchery” associated with it. Would not that same counsel apply to anything else that might cause one to become intoxicated and act in an unrestrained or debauched manner? (Ephesians 5:18) Often persons under the influence of drugs injure themselves or are hurt by others. (Compare Proverbs 23:29, 35.) These drugs are also linked to other health dangers, including lung disease, brain and genetic damage, malnutrition and hepatitis. So applying the counsel found in the Bible definitely can result in health benefits.
WHY AND HOW TO APPLY GOD’S COUNSEL
12 The prospect of being healthier and living longer appeals to all sane persons. That is one good reason for accepting and applying the Scriptural counsel we have considered. (Psalm 16:11) But is that reason sufficient? You likely know persons who will accept risks because of the pleasure or thrill they hope to get. It should be different, though, with persons who have faith in God and who recognize that he has revealed himself through the Bible. Since our life is from him, we should be concerned with using it in harmony with the guidance he offers in the Bible. We would be ungrateful if we were to accept life from Jehovah and then deliberately ignore his wise and loving counsel on how to use our life.
13 Furthermore, as the Giver of life, does not God have the right to direct how we should live? He is the Ultimate Authority in the universe. The Bible writer James called him the ‘One who is lawgiver and judge.’ (James 4:12; compare Isaiah 45:9.) Hence, with regard to personal habits, we ought to be moved to apply what God says because He says it.
14 This outlook has provided a powerful motivation for many persons who long were unsuccessful in ending a harmful addiction. What they were doing became more serious when they saw that they needed to change, not just for the sake of their health, but because it was in accord with God’s will. Jesus told his followers that the greatest command is to love Jehovah “with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.” (Matthew 22:37) To do that, a person must break free from things that drug and damage the mind or that pollute the body.
15 An added help is to associate with persons who are endeavoring to live in accord with God’s counsel. The apostle Peter wrote that some, before becoming Christians, had “proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” (1 Peter 4:3) As they worked to change, they could be strengthened by meeting with fellow Christians. They would thus be encouraged to study and apply God’s Word. And if, while making the needed changes, they weakened or felt extra strain, they could get help. How? By visiting and speaking with mature Christians, who would be sympathetic, understanding and upbuilding.—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10; Job 16:5.
16 If you would like such assistance, you are welcome to attend the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Experienced Christians there will be happy to help you to learn and apply Bible counsel. As you make progress in doing so, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are striving to please your Creator. And you will be on the road to better health and longer life, with happiness.
What reasons do you have to know that God is interested in your health? (1-6)
What Bible counsel bears on the use of tobacco? (7-9)
How does the Bible help us in our view of alcohol? Of drugs? (10, 11)
What reasons do you have for applying God’s counsel in your life? What aid is available? (12-16)
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“There is now added evidence that cigarette smoke harms not only the user but those around him. . . . If you smoke you should consider the effect both physically and psychologically on your child as well as yourself. Your own smoking is hazardous to the health of your child.“—Medical columnist Dr. Saul Kapel.
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“Research links marijuana to many potentially serious health problems. They include lung damage and possibly cancer, mental and neurological disturbances, defects in the body’s ability to fight disease, impaired sexual performance and the threat of chromosome damage and birth defects.”—“Newsweek.”
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Cleanliness is an aid to good health