04 Apr The Most Important Precaution
Today, I would like to remind all of us about the most important precaution that we believers must not forget. That is, as we guard our health, it is equally important that we also guard our spirit well.
Our hearts are too prone to wander.
As <Isa 53:6> says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.” Why is it so easy for us to go astray? Because the traps are very real:
1) Pull of the world.
Even if we have no intention to stray, the world will keep luring us into temptations, sinful pleasures, self-reliance, false security in human ways, and so on. Particularly, in this pandemic, the widespread fears that we read in the social media and Internet can easily make us so absorbed into the earthly reality, that we forgot that there is also a spiritual reality which governs the happenings of this world. As a result, we will trust God less, but flow more with worldly fears and sentiments, and put more trust in human opinions and solutions.
2) Our own sinful inclinations.
The truth is, when we are left on our own, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, we will gratify our flesh. Our sinful nature will prompt us to go to the world, to seek out sinful pleasures. That is why we cannot lose sight of God’s presence and His truth.
3) Devil’s constant cunning work on us.
Sometimes the devil uses wealth and prosperity to draw us away from God; other times he uses illnesses and sufferings to make us leave God. Many a times, he made us feel that God’s word is irrelevant, such that our hearts go for other things instead.
Since our hearts are so prone to wander, if we do not take precautions to guard it, we will all the more drift easily away from God.
If we fail to maintain our spiritual health, there will be serious consequences.
While everyone is now heavily concerned about the spread of COVID-19, the Bible helps to put things into the right priorities:
1) Any harm to the soul is more detrimental than harm to the body.
<Mt 10:28> reminds believers that if we are afraid of what can kill our body, we should be even more afraid of what can kill our soul. When we are spiritually healthy, we will be able to use God’s power to cope with whatever challenges life brings us. However, if we lose the connection with God, even if we do not face major problems on earth, we will still not feel at peace. If we lose strength in our spirit, even if COVID-19 does not harm us, we would have been crushed by our fears, killed by our worries, and died of spiritual hunger. Even if we have not lost our freedom to a locked quarantine room, we will already lose our freedom to be enslaved by the devil’s hints and human opinions. Without the confidence rooted in God, we may become insecure and end up hoarding stuff and doing other irrational things. Not just that, but without spiritual assurance, we would also lose the Christian authority to witness for Christ convincingly. Without the nourishment of God’s love, we can easily become judgmental of others and only looking out for our own interests.
Now, if the novel coronavirus is considered a life-and-death matter, then our spiritual wellbeing is all the more vital, because it concerns more than our earthly life. That is why the Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” <Prov 4:23> The “heart” that the verse talks about refers to the heart that cherishes and reveres God. If we neglect to maintain that God-fearing heart, all other aspects of our lives will suffer loss too.
2) As it is with physical livelihood, so it is with spiritual sustenance.
The wise words of <Prov 24:33-34> tells us, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” Of course, that pertains to life on earth, but I would think that the same applies to spiritual life. If we are spiritually lazy, our souls will be starved. If we allow our souls to fall into spiritual slumber, we will lose spiritual wisdom in no time. In the COVID-19 situation, Christians also face another crisis, that is the risk of getting spiritually cold as a result of reduced interaction with the community of faith. We need to remember that while it takes very long to build a strong relationship with God, it just takes a moment for our faith to be shaken. Therefore, we must keep up with maintaining our spiritual health, even as we diligently take precautions against COVID-19.
Just as the consequences of COVID-19 cannot be taken lightly, the consequences of a failing spiritual health cannot be overlooked too.
How can we sustain our spiritual health?
Drawing from the precautionary measures of the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a few important protective steps we can take to ensure we remain spiritually healthy:
Just as we are told countless times to clean our hands to protect against coronavirus, so we also need to constantly cleanse our heart, which is so easily infected by sin. Though sin would be a constant struggle for us, whenever we cleanse ourselves with the blood of Christ, God will show us mercy. So come to Jesus every day, ask for the forgiveness of our sins and the purification of our hearts.
2) Take our spiritual temperature daily.
When detecting COVID-19, the sign of a fever is an alert for more serious intervention. Before more serious symptoms develop, an abnormal temperature is one of the first warning signs. So too, before we realise it only when we are already very far from God, we should examine ourselves every day. Ask yourself, are you secretly enjoying and getting used to a churchless life? Does your heart still light up at God’s word? Do you still desire to pray? By examining how much your spiritual interest for the Lord is, you will know if something is wrong with your spiritual health.
People are encouraged to consult the doctor when they feel unwell. Likewise, when we feel spiritually in need, we should also seek spiritual support from our brethren, and more importantly, from the word of God. <Prov 4:20-22> says, “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” The sick goes to the doctor in hope of restoring their health, and here God clearly says that His word can bring health to one’s whole body. Read His word more to sustain your spiritual health.
Just as we are told to avoid crowds and places with higher risks of infection, we also should avoid entertaining the devil and being in contact with temptations and sins. The Bible tells us to flee evil desires <2 Ti 2:22>. <1 Pe 5:8-9> also tells us to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” As much as we resist the virus, we need to resist the devil even more strongly.
Brothers and sisters, as you take the necessary precautions to safeguard your physical well-being, I pray that you will also pay equal, if not more, attention to the preservation of your spiritual health. May God guard all our hearts during this pandemic!