Physical examEveryone knows what I’m talking about when I ask if you’ve had a “physical” lately (a physical exam). But have you ever thought about having a “spiritual” (a spiritual exam)? Not a bad idea, is it? You know about physical parameters or vital signs that would be checked: height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, serum cholesterol, blood sugar, EKG, etc. Notice these are all objective parameters — easily measurable. But what would be your spiritual parameters or “spiritual vital signs,” and how would they be checked?

Let’s start a list of spiritual vital signs: levels of faith, love, belief, compassion, forgiveness, private thoughts, attitude, thankfulness, selfishness, prayer life, honesty, and so forth. With some exception most of these parameters are subjective and certainly not easily measurable. But there are definitely some objective measurements that can be used in evaluating your “spiritual fitness”: your words, how you treat others, generosity in giving of yourself monetarily and in service, observable life traits and habits, etc.

In our current American culture most people are very health conscious. I imagine you are also — and rightly so. Being a physician I am acutely aware of this. But seriously, are you concerned about your spiritual fitness? Have you ever thought about it in these terms? Regarding your physical fitness, you probably have some dietary and exercise regimen that “ideally” you adhere to. How about some spiritual regimen (“spiritual diet” or “spiritual exercise”) to stay fit? This could include more Bible study, reading articles and books by religious scholars, improving your prayer life, teaching Bible classes, serving the needy, specifically working on personal traits or habits that need improvement, etc. If you are successful, people will notice! In fact, you should have a “spiritual physician” — a friend who holds you personally accountable.

I can use some common euphemisms or concepts that relate to the physical as well as to our spiritual “shape”. You may add to the list:

If you don’t use it; you’ll lose it.”
If we let our spiritual health lag or put it on hold, we lose ground.

“No pain; no gain.”
It takes time and energy to grow spiritually and to serve others.

“Don’t be a couch potato.”
Just as we can become physical sluggards; likewise, we can become spiritual sluggards.

Mankind’s greatest concern is his physical health, but mankind’s greatest need is his spiritual health. Just as being in good physical condition allows you to do more and enjoy life more, the exact same can be said about being in good spiritual condition.

Isn’t it usually obvious who is in good physical shape? It’s likewise obvious who is in good spiritual shape. How? Look at Matthew 7:16, “By their fruit you will recognize them. …” Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22 and 23 what to look for:
Galatians 5:22-23

In our churches it is infinitely acceptable for people to be sick or to have surgery. Of course this is true. Many appropriate prayers are offered in their behalf. How many prayers do you hear offered for peoples’ spiritual health? Let us not forget this vital aspect of prayer — for ourselves and for others. Search the scriptures and you’ll find many more prayers for peoples’ spiritual well being than for their physical well being.

I conclude by asking these simple questions:

When was your last “Spiritual Exam”?

What is the status of your spiritual health? (Did you pass your “spiritual”?)

What are you doing to maintain and improve your spiritual health?

When was the last time you expressed concern and prayed for someone else’s spiritual health?

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