Check Your Inputs

Pastor Craig shared the next installment in our ongoing series on mental health. Please check out this short recap he shared on his blog, and scroll down to watch the video of his full sermon.

Jesus was the healthiest Person to ever walk planet Earth. When Luke, a physician, tells us about the growth of Jesus, he says first that “Jesus grew in wisdom.” (Luke 2:52). That is our indication that a healthy mind is at the foundation for every other aspect of health. 

But mental health doesn’t stay in your mind—it affects every other part of your life. Likewise, all of the other parts of your life can enhance or drain your mental health. We are created as interconnected beings. For instance, it’s hard to think correctly when you’re physically tired, spiritually drained, or involved in an unhealthy relationship. It’s also true that it’s hard to make good decisions about your physical health, stay focused on God, or handle your relationships successfully if you aren’t thinking correctly. 

We see the apostles writing about our wholly healthiness

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. (3 John 2) 

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NLT) 

When my laptop is disconnected from the monitors I use at our church building, the message on the screen tells me to “check your inputs.” That’s not just for inanimate technology, but for us too: To maintain good overall health, we need to check our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional inputs. 

Let’s start with the physical inputs. When we are active during the day our bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol. Stress is not a bad thing—it’s a normal thing. A body that isn’t stressed will atrophy and become susceptible to disease. Balanced, healthy stress is called eustress, and unbalanced, unhealthy stress is called distress. 

Cortisol is naturally flushed from the body in two ways: exercise and sleep. Exercise is important to keep our bodies moving effectively, and sleep helps us recover and helps our brains catalogue our memories (see 1 Timothy 4:8; Psalm 3:5). To fuel our exercise and our sleep requires the energy which we get from a healthy diet. 

So if you’re not thinking healthy thoughts, check your physical inputs: Am I getting the proper amount of sleep? Am I exercising regularly? Am I eating properly? Do I see a doctor for a checkup? 

How about spiritual inputs? Somewhat surprisingly, our spirits are kept healthy very much along the same lines as our physical bodies—proper food, appropriate exercise, and a time of rest. Our spiritual food is God’s Word, our exercise is working out what we’ve studied in the Bible, and our rest is called sabbathing (Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 7:24-27; James 2:17). Jesus demonstrated all of these in His life and we, too, should follow His example. 

If you’re not thinking healthy thoughts, check your spiritual inputs: Am I reading the Bible regularly? Am I putting what I learn into practice? Am I sabbathing properly?  

Then there our emotional inputs, or the relationships that build us and relationships that drain us. You are always going to encounter people in need, and ministering to those needs is draining (Luke 8:45-46). We also need to be alert to those antagonistic people who purposely drain us (2 Timothy 4:14-15). We can make decisions to place people in our lives who build us up and be cautious of those who drain us (Proverbs 27:3, 5-6, 9, 17). 

Once again, if you’re not thinking healthy thoughts, check your emotional inputs: Do I have healthy people investing in my life? Am I sharpening the iron of others? 

Finally, let’s not forget the mental inputs. Computer programmers are well aware of the acronym GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t like the results that are coming out, check what is going in. The apostle Paul gives us an outstanding checklist in Philippians 4:8

If your mental health isn’t as healthy as you would like it to be, perhaps you need to talk to your doctor about your physical health, or a mature spiritual friend about your spiritual health, or a Christian counselor about your emotional health. As you consult with these wise people, continue to pray for God’s help. As your Creator, He knows you better than anyone else could and He can give you the wisdom you need as you check your inputs. 

This is part 5 in our series on a Christian’s mental health. If you’ve missed any of the other messages I’ve shared, you can find them all by clicking here