One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
“What’s the greatest commandment?” The guy asks, and Jesus manages to sneak 5 different things in his answer!
“Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbour as yourself.”
He always gets credit for parsing down the whole of the Law into one word: LOVE. But I think he should also get credit for managing to squeeze all 5 areas of whole-life health into it as well.
I don’t know what “healthy” means to you, nor “abundant.”
Some people, when you ask them what abundant life looks like, they talk money. Others talk absence of any sickness. For others, it’s not being lonely anymore.
I had my own definition of success, but I confess it’s been challenged in this last season.
I’m no longer sure if you can have abundant life if your body is being neglected, or if you have no meaningful relationships, or if your mind is atrophying. Even though there may be one area I am especially drawn to, I’m increasingly convinced you can’t have one without the others – it’s a whole meal deal.
The Bible talks about 5 areas of strength for a reason. It’s the blueprint for health, and the more I lean into this holistic view of ourselves, the more I believe we need “strength” in each area if we ever want to claim abundance. Jesus named them, right in Mark 12:30-31. I’ll use slightly different names, but we’re talking about similar things:
Heart – Emotional Health
Soul – Spiritual Health
Mind – Mental Health
Strength – Physical Health
Self & Neighbours – Relational Health
If you have one area you’re absolutely sinking in, it will affect every other area of your life. I don’t think you can have an abundant life if one of these areas is really suffering. It’s like a circle – circles are really strong shapes, but one break in it, and it loses all it strength, not just some of it. We need all 5 areas of health to be strong if we want abundance in any area.
I know, when you’re in the middle of it all, the only thing you can see in front of you is the one problem. But this doesn’t solve my unbearable debt load. No, it doesn’t. But I’m asking you, just for today, to zoom out – waayyy out – to see there’s a bigger picture here, and that whole-life strength really does affect problems in every area.
There’s no way to explain why starting running helped me connect better with my husband – he doesn’t even like running. It still makes no sense to me that sitting in therapy talking about how I feel gave me courage to make some much-needed decisions about my future. But I’ve become a fervent believer that pursuing whole-life health will begin to solve problems in ways you never even considered before.
Please understand, this is not what I’ve always believed. In fact, last year I had plenty of warning signs to pay more attention to my physical health, but I ignored them. I’ve always over-valued spiritual and mental health and neglected physical and emotional well-being. To me, they were hobbies for the fitness-oriented or even indulgence for the weak. (Gulp. How wrong I was!)
The Price of Neglect
Eventually, if you neglect something long enough, there is a price to be paid. For me, it came at a high cost, and I know I’m not the only one.
I’ve seen others ignore their relational health, putting tons of energy into their physical health or mental health, and wonder why they were so miserable.
Personally, I neglected my emotional health and my physical health and have spent far too much time in doctors offices and in therapy having to attend to both this last season.
And there are many other variations of this theme.
I have come to believe that we cannot have abundant life if we aren’t willing to live a whole life.
Over the next 30 days, we’re going to take some time to look into each of these elements of Biblical health and find little things we can do to move forwards towards the abundant life we’re craving.
If you’re like me, there’s some you’re already dimissive of, and others you’re super passionate about. My challenge to us is to lean into the areas that need our attention and do one little thing to move the needle forward. Then, let’s see what happens. Little things make for big changes!
One Little Thing Challenge: Day 3
Take a moment to consider where your strengths are – which of these 5 areas do you regularly invest in? Which are more neglected?
Day 3 Printable Journal Pages
Prayer for Today