Maintain a Scriptural View of Health Care
“You must love Jehovah your God . . . with your whole mind and with your whole strength.”—MARK 12:30.
1. What did God originally purpose for mankind?
JEHOVAH GOD’S original purpose for human creatures did not include sickness and death. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden, or “paradise of pleasure,” “to cultivate it and to take care of it,” not for a mere 70 or 80 years, but for eternity. (Gen. 2:8, 15, ftn.; Ps. 90:10) If that first human couple had remained faithful to Jehovah and had lovingly submitted to his sovereignty, they would never have experienced ill health, frailty, and death.
2, 3. (a) How is old age depicted in the book of Ecclesiastes? (b) Who is responsible for Adamic death, and how will its effects be undone?
2 Ecclesiastes chapter 12 paints a vivid picture of “the calamitous days” that accompany old age in the case of imperfect humans. (Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-7.) White hair is compared to the blossom of “the almond tree.” Legs are likened to “men of vital energy” that now bend and totter. Ladies who go to a window in search of light and find only darkness are a fitting illustration of dimming eyesight. Since some teeth are missing, “the grinding women have quit working because they have become few.”
3 Shaky legs, failing eyesight, and toothless gums are certainly not what God originally purposed for mankind. Moreover, death inherited from Adam is one of “the works of the Devil” that God’s Son will undo by means of his Messianic Kingdom. The apostle John wrote: “For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.”—1 John 3:8.
Reasonable Concern Is Natural
4. Why are Jehovah’s servants reasonably concerned about their health, but of what are they aware?
4 At the present time, some of Jehovah’s servants find themselves faced with the problems of ill health and aging that are common to sinful mankind. Reasonable concern about our health under such circumstances is natural and even beneficial. Do we not want to serve Jehovah ‘with our whole strength’? (Mark 12:30) While seeking to remain reasonably healthy, however, we should be realistic and recognize that there is very little that we can do to slow down the aging process or avoid all sickness.
5. What lesson can we draw from the way faithful servants of God have dealt with sickness?
5 Many faithful servants of Jehovah have had to contend with health problems. Epaphroditus was one of these. (Phil. 2:25-27) The apostle Paul’s loyal companion Timothy had frequent bouts of stomach trouble for which Paul recommended the use of “a little wine.” (1 Tim. 5:23) Paul himself had to deal with “a thorn in the flesh,” perhaps an eye affliction or some other physical ailment for which there was no medical cure at that time. (2 Cor. 12:7; Gal. 4:15; 6:11) Regarding his “thorn in the flesh,” Paul made fervent pleas to Jehovah. (Read 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.) God did not miraculously relieve Paul of the “thorn in the flesh.” Instead, God strengthened him to endure it. Jehovah’s power thus became manifest in Paul’s weakness. Could this case contain a lesson for us?
Avoid Excessive Concern Over Health Care
6, 7. Why should we avoid excessive concern over our health?
6 As you know, Jehovah’s Witnesses accept medical help and various forms of treatment. Our journal Awake! often contains articles on health matters. And although we do not endorse any particular treatment, we appreciate the help and cooperation of health-care professionals. Of course, we are aware that perfect health is not yet attainable. Therefore, we know that it is wise to avoid letting our health become an obsession or a constant concern. Our attitude should differ from that of those who have “no hope,” who think that this life is all there is and who will resort to any therapy in an attempt to cure their ailments. (Eph. 2:2, 12) We are determined not to forfeit Jehovah’s approval in an effort to save our present life, for we are convinced that if we remain faithful to God, we will “get a firm hold on the real life,” everlasting life in his promised new system of things.—1 Tim. 6:12, 19; 2 Pet. 3:13.
7 We avoid excessive concern over our health for another reason. Being inordinately concerned about our health could lead to our becoming self-centered. Paul warned against this danger when he urged the Philippians to be “keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just [their] own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.” (Phil. 2:4) It is proper to take reasonable care of ourselves, but the keen interest we show in our brothers and in the people to whom we bring “this good news of the kingdom” will prevent us from being preoccupied with our physical well-being.—Matt. 24:14.
8. What might undue concern over our health lead us to do?
8 The danger exists that a Christian might let health concerns push Kingdom interests into the background. Obsession with health care could also lead us to try to impose on others our personal opinions regarding the value of some diet, therapy, or food supplement. In this regard, consider the principle embodied in Paul’s words: “Make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ.”—Phil. 1:10.
What Is More Important?
9. What is one of the more important things that we should not neglect, and why?
9 If we are making sure of the more important things, we will be having an active share in the work of spiritual healing. It is accomplished by preaching and teaching the Word of God. This joyful activity benefits us and those whom we teach. (Prov. 17:22; 1 Tim. 4:15, 16) The Watchtower and Awake! magazines occasionally include articles regarding our spiritual brothers and sisters who have serious illnesses. These accounts sometimes explain how those individuals cope with their problems or even temporarily take their minds off them by seeking to help others come to know Jehovah and his wonderful promises.*
10. Why does our choice of therapies matter?
10 When faced with a health problem, each adult Christian must “carry his own load” of responsibility in choosing treatment. (Gal. 6:5) But we should remember that our choice of therapy matters to Jehovah. Just as respect for Bible principles moves us to “abstain . . . from blood,” so our deep regard for God’s Word should impel us to avoid resorting to therapies that could harm us spiritually or affect our relationship with Jehovah. (Acts 15:20) Some diagnostic and therapeutic procedures border on the use of the uncanny. Jehovah disapproved of apostate Israelites who resorted to “uncanny power,” or spiritistic practices. He declared: “Stop bringing in any more valueless grain offerings. Incense—it is something detestable to me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of a convention—I cannot put up with the use of uncanny power along with the solemn assembly.” (Isa. 1:13) A period of illness surely is no time to do something that might hinder our prayers and jeopardize our relationship with God.—Lam. 3:44.
“Soundness of Mind” Essential
11, 12. How does “soundness of mind” come into play when we are selecting health care?
11 When we are sick, we cannot expect Jehovah to heal us miraculously, but we can pray for wisdom in choosing treatment. We should seek to be guided in our choice by Scriptural principles and good sense. When the case is serious, it may be wise to consult more than one specialist if that is possible, in line with the thought expressed at Proverbs 15:22, which states: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” The apostle Paul urged fellow believers to “live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”—Titus 2:12.
12 Many individuals find themselves in a situation similar to that of a sick woman in Jesus’ day. At Mark 5:25, 26, we read: “There was a woman subject to a flow of blood twelve years, and she had been put to many pains by many physicians and had spent all her resources and had not been benefited but, rather, had got worse.” Jesus healed that woman and dealt with her compassionately. (Mark 5:27-34) In desperation, some Christians have been tempted to choose diagnostic or therapeutic methods that go against the principles of pure worship.
13, 14. (a) How could Satan use our choice of health treatments to breach our integrity? (b) Why should we keep away from anything that even borders on the occult?
13 Satan will resort to any means to distract us from true worship. Just as he uses sexual immorality and materialism to cause some to stumble, he tries to breach the integrity of others by means of questionable treatments that amount to the use of occult powers and spiritism. We pray to Jehovah for deliverance from “the wicked one” and from “every sort of lawlessness.” So we should not play into Satan’s hands by exposing ourselves to anything that borders on spiritism and the occult.—Matt. 6:13; Titus 2:14.
14 Jehovah forbade the Israelites to practice divination and magic. (Deut. 18:10-12) Paul lists the “practice of spiritism” among “the works of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:19, 20) Furthermore, “those practicing spiritism” will have no part in Jehovah’s new system of things. (Rev. 21:8) Clearly, then, anything that smacks of spiritism is detestable to Jehovah.
“Let Your Reasonableness Become Known”
15, 16. Why do we need wisdom in choosing health care, and what wise counsel did the first-century governing body give?
15 In view of the foregoing, if we have doubts about some diagnostic or therapeutic procedure, we would be wise to reject it. Of course, the mere fact that we personally are unable to explain how a health technique works does not in itself mean that it involves some form of spiritism. Keeping a Scriptural view of health care requires divine wisdom and calls for good judgment on our part. In Proverbs chapter 3, we find this admonition: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. . . . Safeguard practical wisdom and thinking ability, and they will prove to be life to your soul.”—Prov. 3:5, 6, 21, 22.
16 While endeavoring to stay as healthy as possible, then, we must be careful not to lose God’s favor as we try to cope with sickness or the aging process. In health care, as in other matters, we should ‘let our reasonableness become known to all men’ by living in accord with Bible principles. (Phil. 4:5) In a vitally important letter, the first-century governing body instructed Christians to abstain from idolatry, blood, and fornication. That letter included the assurance: “If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper.” (Acts 15:28, 29) In what way?
Reasonable Care With Perfect Health in View
17. How have we benefited physically from our adherence to Bible principles?
17 Each of us does well to ask himself, ‘Do I appreciate the extent to which I have personally prospered because of my strict observance of Bible principles regarding blood and fornication?’ Think, too, of the benefits that have come to us as a result of our efforts to “cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” (2 Cor. 7:1) By adhering to Bible standards regarding personal hygiene, we avoid many physical ailments. We prosper because of shunning the spiritually and physically defiling use of tobacco and illicit drugs. Consider also the health benefits that result from moderation in eating and drinking. (Read Proverbs 23:20; Titus 2:2, 3.) Although such factors as rest and exercise may contribute to our general well-being, we have especially prospered physically and spiritually because we have accepted Scriptural guidance.
18. What should be our main concern, and to the fulfillment of what prophecy regarding health can we look forward?
18 Above all, we should take care of our spiritual health and strengthen our precious relationship with our heavenly Father, the Source of our “life now and that which is to come” in his promised new world. (1 Tim. 4:8; Ps. 36:9) In God’s new world, full spiritual and physical healing will be brought about by means of forgiveness of sins on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, will guide us to “fountains of waters of life,” and God will wipe out every tear from our eyes. (Rev. 7:14-17; 22:1, 2) Then, too, we will experience the fulfillment of this thrilling prophecy: “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isa. 33:24.
19. While taking reasonable care of our health, of what can we be assured?
19 We are convinced that our deliverance is near, and we eagerly await the day when Jehovah will reverse the process of human sickness and death. In the meantime, we are assured that our loving Father will help us to endure the burden of our aches and pains because ‘he cares for us.’ (1 Pet. 5:7) Let us, therefore, take care of our health but always in accord with the clear guidelines contained in God’s inspired Word!
A list of some such articles appears in the box on page 17 of The Watchtower of September 1, 2003.
By Way of Review
• Who is responsible for sickness, and who will relieve us of the effects of sin?
• Although it is normal for us to be concerned about our health, what should we avoid?
• Why does our choice of therapy matter to Jehovah?
• With regard to our health, how can we benefit from adhering to Bible principles?
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Mankind was not created to experience illness and old age
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Despite health problems, Jehovah’s people find joy in the ministry