Physical health care in the Bible

Reverend Martin Adhikary

9 October, 2020 12:00 AM printer

In Bangla language, we have a well-known saying, “Swasthoi shokol sukher mool”. We also know that the same is said, “Health is wealth”. I believe that in many other languages of the world there is similar sayings, which are of most practical use for mankind. If we are ill, sick or we are not in good health condition, we do not enjoy life. And there is no happiness for us. There Bangla word ‘Osukh’ conveys the meaning. God created everything in creation. After finishing His creation, God declared that everything that the good God created is good. According the Biblical revelation when God had created Man on the 6th day God said, “Very God”, which word the Bangla Bible has as “Oti uttom”.

Man is the crown and climax of His Creation. “We read in the Biblical book ‘Genesis Chapter 1 that in the beginning of Creation, when God made heaven and earth, God said. . . God made. . . and also God saw all that he had created, and it was very good.”  But due to sin everything in creation got adversely affected. This includes the unhappy fact that man’s total condition has been affected. Disease, decay and death appeared and they continue to be a part and parcel of our life with all that they imply.

According to the Bible God created man’s body, which was lifeless and the God breathed into man’s body His Spirit and as such man became a living being. Man is a unit made up of body, mind, soul and spirit. Due to man’s fall man has alienated himself from God, from nature, from fellow-beings and also from himself. Though due to sins God’s “image and likeness” in man is not totally erased, but it is damaged or tarnished. So, man is not in perfect shape any longer. Our ill-health, sufferings, diseases of any kind is reflections of our estrangements or alienations that are mentioned above. We do not live in a perfect world and we ourselves are not perfect.

We are commanded by God to be stewards of all that God has given us. This primarily includes our health. Healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Our body, our health and wholeness ought to get maximum possible care. We must be good stewards of our bodies. We ought to take every possible care to keep our body healthy and free from diseases. According to Biblical teaching, God created the human body first then He gave His Spirit to make man a living being. According to an ancient Greek philosophy, the body is matter, which is evil and it was created by an evil deity. For Christians, our body is called the temple of God’s Spirit. Paul, the apostle admonished the members of the then church at Corinth thus: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honour God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul also exhorts believers in Christ to offer their bodies as living sacrifice. This means that all that we do with our bodies should eventually be for God’s glory, and we should not use our bodies for the gratification of our lust and greed. Notable is the fact that this is too lofty and high a calling for any human person.

3 John 1:2 says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” Speaking of love for God and obedience to His commands the ancient sage says, “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverb 3:8. God as our Creator and Sustainer knows best for our needs for a healthy and happy life. Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep His commandment, for this is the whole duty of man.” God lives within us. Paul the apostle advises us in 1Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, for godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

When the ancient Israelites were delivered by God through Moses out of slavery in Egypt they had severe food and water problem in the wilderness. Exodus 15 records that they had no good drinking water.  At a place called Marah they found some water, but that water was bitter. So, the people grumbled against their leader Moses and complained against him saying, “What are we to drink?” Moses prayed to God and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into that water and the water became drinkable.  There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His eyes and if you pay attention to His commands and all His decrees I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15: 24-26). This is for the first time that in the Bible God used and adjective for His name. The God of the Bible is a healing God.

Jesus’ healing ministries for the diseased and disabled people testifies to his compassion and empathy towards the people concerned, and also his valuing the sanctity of human body. In the projected scenario of the Last Judgment as mentioned in the Gospel recorded by Matthew teaches us that his followers would have done work of care and compassion by doing meaningfully good deeds for the suffering people (Matthew 25: 31-46). In an imperfect world as the one we live in disease, discomfort and sufferings would not be a strange thing. But, believers are supposed to do their best to alleviate the miseries of the suffering people by whatever means and with available scientific and bio-medical applications. Both the benefactor and the receiver of the care come closer to God, who wills for a life of health and happiness that edifies us,  bring glory to God.


The writer is a Christian Theology teacher.