Scriptural Elements of the WELL Mission
Deuteronomy 6: 2-3 If you obey all His decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long
life. . . . Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey. NLT
Psalms 139: 23-24 Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. NLT
Proverbs 4: 20-23 My sayings, let them not depart from your eyes. Keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to their whole body. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life. WEB
Lamentations 3: 40 Let us examine our ways, and test them. NIV
Matthew 7: 15-16 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. NIV
Mark 7: 17-22 What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come -- sexual immorality, theft, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. NIV
Luke 6: 45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. NLT
John 15: 4, 15 A branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me…. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit. NLT
Galatians 5: 19-23 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, … hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division … envy, drunkenness and other sins like these. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. NLT
Each of the nine devotional study guides gives a page containing over 20 Bible passages, and each includes teachings from King Solomon, Paul, and Jesus Himself. Each page explains what’s in each passage, giving the reader motivations and pathways to the good life.
The Traditional Model of Wellness
(explained in biblical terms)
We are what we eat, and the exercise we get. Or at least our bodies are. We know what foods and lifestyles are good and bad for us physically. But how about the soul, the person who lives in the body, and takes care of it? What experiences do we take in and put out that make us sick or healthy as caretakers? Common sense and 3000 years of biblical wisdom have identified nine basic needs God has made our souls to crave. These “soul foods” get expressed or “exercised” when our words and deeds pass them on to others.
Jesus told us we will know people by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20). Thatwas his word for both the soul food experiences we take in, and for the word and deed exercises we give out. The Bible clearly teaches us to distinguish between sick and healthy fruits, ones that poison life, and ones that inspire it. The apostle Paul called them the fruits of the flesh and fruits of the spirit. Junk-food experiences feed the dying natural flesh, making us sick in our souls. Whole-foods feed the spirit of the soul, bringing health and wellbeing to all.
The first three of the nine issues are IDENTITY fruits, especially for individuals. They deal with themes of learning Confusion vs. Character. Issues 4 through 6 are RELATIONSHIP fruits, especially for the home. They deal with themes of Comparing vs. Connecting. The last three issues are CONTRIBUTION fruits, especially for work and society. They deal with themes of Consuming vs. Creating. IDENTITY Fruits involve the first of Jesus’ two great commandments, and the first four of Moses’ Ten Commandments. RELATIONSHIP and CONTRIBUTION fruits deal with Jesus’ second commandment, and Moses’ last six. The Fruits of the Flesh 3 through 9 are the corrosive, addictive 1500-year-old “seven deadly sins”: the more we give or receive these soul foods, the more we want, because our buckets leak.
The way of the flesh is natural, visible, and measurable. Just as it was in Eden, we grow something as fruit and then eat it when we pay full attention to it with our hearts and minds. The tree of knowing good and evil fools us into thinking we know what we need most, and what others need most from us. To get more of the soul foods we crave, the physically countable and somewhat controllable stuff, we create our own little self, our ego. What the Bible calls our flesh is the deliberately schemingselfish self that gives to get. The flesh is always at the center of its own pretend universe. The ego is always about getting us more pleasure and less pain, usually just in the short run. The Fruits of the Flesh are corrosive and addictive. The more we give or receive these soul foods, the more we want/seek them, because they make our buckets leak. Such natural mindsets are either too selfish or too unselfish (loving others too much, at our own expense).
The life of the spirit is supernatural, invisible, and mysterious. Every soul yearns to belong to someone, to live for something bigger than itself, something or someone to take care of us no matter what. Whatever or whoever we would give up everything else to find, to keep, or to please, that source of strength gives us its spirit. It’s where we believe we can find our security and truth, our worth and power. The choices for our top priority are mainly three: we can worship the life-giving Creator (hopefully indwelling), the death-giving Devil, or by far the most common choice, something natural and spiritually neutral – lesser gods, like a creature, a creation, a career, or some dream we create. Devotedly serving something beyond ourselves breathes into our lives the new energy of a quest, the spiritual dimension of a mission. The Fruits of the Spirit come from a wellspring within: the more we give, the more we have to give. These supernatural mindsets of fullness are balanced, taking care of self, family, friends, and the world. Whether it’s junk vs. whole food depends on how and where our basic resources come from, and how we give them away. If we give and receive these in healthy ways, we always seem to have enough.
So by this model, every body (and every organization of people) has a soul, a personality that lives in it, and takes care of it. The motivations for most every choice come from both flesh and spirit. Wisdom comes to those who learn to distinguish between these inner voices, and to give and receive increasingly more fruits of the spirit from wellsprings within and without. Wise people and groups come to see how giving and receiving spiritual fruit is the pathway to wellness.
A helpful way to determine how good and healthy we are is to compare ourselves to the commandments, teachings, and role models of the Bible. What we learn about ourselves here, we can then confirm in prayer. Then we can look for further confirmation in several places: moral reasoning, gut-level feelings, the feedback of others, the initial consequences that result from our actions, and how things seem likely to turn out later for all concerned. Over and over the Bible says its guidance and laws for how to live are given for our wellness, our healthy wellbeing and so we can bless others, not just now but in the long run (Moses in Deut. 6, Solomon throughout Proverbs, Jesus in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5: 3-9, 6:25-34, and 7:7-12) and in John 10:10, and Paul in Colossians 3.
Good history, science, and journalism can give us helpful confirmation and illustration of what we learn from the Bible. Truth is truth, and will be confirmed when people honestly look for it. How do we know the difference between the real truth and fake news, fake science, and fake history? “Consider the source,” says common sense. Jesus explained it this way, “You will know them by their fruits,” Matt. 7:15-20. He told His disciples at the Last Supper that whatever He was involved in would bear good fruit, and whatever was not coming from Him would not bear good fruit, and would be cut off or pruned, so the vine could bear more fruit (John 15: 1-5, 8, 16). Likewise Paul in I Corinthians 13 described how people could do mighty works that looked like God’s will, but if they were done in the wrong spirit, the ministry would be hollow and dead. They may claim to be Christians, but if their hearts and motives aren’t right, they’ll make us sick. We know the roots by knowing the fruits.
What are these good and bad fruits?
The Bible doesn’t say in any one place exactly what fruits Jesus was talking about, but they are mentioned in several passages of the Old and New Testament. The four best lists are in Prov 6: 12-19, Gal 5: 19-23, Col 3: 5-17, and James 3: 13-18. From these passages, plus psychology and common sense, seven of the TAW’s nine sickening fruits are the seven deadly sins. The other two poisonous mindsets and lifestyles (dishonesty and fear) have traditionally been included with these seven, and they have become increasingly prominent experiences for the world in the 21st century. The TAW’s Fruits of the Flesh are:
DENIAL Not looking much at your faults, and not admitting them
FEAR Being preoccupied and troubled from worry and anxiety
SELFISH PRIDE Seeing yourself as special, thinking too highly of your worth
ENVY Delighting in others’ misfortunes, and disliking their success
RESENTMENT Harboring grudges or anger, wishing or working for revenge
LUST Betraying and neglecting loved ones selfishly with infidelity or pornography
GREED Valuing money and possessions more than family, friends, and people in need
LAZINESS Neglecting important relationships and responsibilities to relax
GLUTTONY Over-indulging in pain-killing habits
By contrast, the TAW’s Lively Traits (Fruits of the Spirit) are:
HONESTY Seeking and telling the truth; fact-checking; consistent rules and priorities
FAITH Trusting in a benevolent source of protection
HUMILITY Living as if everyone has value and potential
COMPASSION Helping, encouraging, and empathizing with people in trouble
PEACEMAKING Trying to make peace when you’re hurt
SEXUAL INTEGRITY Saving most sexual enjoyment for consummating intimacy
STEWARDSHIP Living simply, gratefully, generously, and saving for the future
ENTHUSIASM Working long and hard without getting burned out
PHYSICAL FITNESS Keeping your body fit with diet and exercise
Good ways to tell if I’m walking in the flesh or the Spirit,
and how I can look at my problems from God’s viewpoint
Am I Standing (or Cowering) in Judgment?
Am I judging the motives or character of other people, maybe worried they’re judging me?
Or am I looking for God’s approval, trying to express and portray His motives and character?
Am I Figuring out something to Fix it?
Am I trying to figure somebody out, to fix them? Better figure myself out, and let God fix me.
Am I Restlessly Comparing (Image Management), or Gratefully Content?
Am I looking to make myself (look) different, or be comfortable in my own skin, just being me?
Who’s Helping Who here?
Am I thinking what God could do to help me with what I’m doing,
Or how I can help God with what God is doing here?
Am I Looking to Get, or to Give?
Am I giving only to those who’ll give back to me? Am I seeking more toget than to give here?
Rather than wanting or trying to receive it, way better to get fulfilled by giving spiritual fruits.
Am I Seeing Flesh or Spirit in myself and others?
Am I seeing myself and others in the natural, focusing on the ego, the selfish self, the false self
we’ve all made (up) to avoid pain and get pleasure, to calm and protect ourselves?
Or am I seeing through pain to our true selves, the soul seeking God, longing to give and
receive love, created in God’s image, all of us brothers and sisters in the family of God?
Another Place to Look
Am I looking to get a lift from the support of others, looking to them instead of God for this support?
Or do others here need something from me, if I am fulfilled and inspired enough to help them out?
I can give when I trust I’m always getting fresh supplies from God.
Here are nine more soul foods to look at, “A-foods”: am I hungry to get these from others, or from God, so I can feed them some of mine?
The big secret: When I’m walking with God, and getting these soul foods from God, the more of these I give away, the more I have to give. Living water comes from my wellspring inside, and from wellsprings around me from which I drink. When I am able to expect or need nothing in return except the added strength of walking closer with God, I can’t lose.
Biblical Model of Wellness vs.
the Medical and Psychological Models
Today, America’s understanding of wellness has come primarily from the medical model, which concerns only the health of the body. Too often, its concern is not even about bodily health, just the absence of illness. To Jesus and to the believer, wellness concerns the whole person, the “heart, soul, mind, and strength” that Jesus described in His first great commandment (Luke 10:27). God had already given this commandment to Moses (Deut. 6:5, the Shema, the most frequently prayed of all Jewish prayers). God gave the purpose of this and other commandments in Deut. 5:33-6:3, and this passage is all about wellness: “that you may live long, and that it may go well with you” (5th commandment, Deut. 5:16), “that it it might go well with them and their children forever” (5:29, “that you may live and prosper and prolong your days” (5:33), and “that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey” (6:3).
How can we know people and organizations “by their fruits”?
We should ask these four questions about any person or organization, and we will learn a great deal about their wellness.
1. What are the fruits of their words, the content, spirit, tone, purpose, and outcome of what they say?
2. What does their personal life say about the fruits they give and receive in private? What do they do to relax, and what do they like to study and learn? How are their relationships with friends and family? We look there first, because the Bible teaches that God wouldn’t put somebody over some public ministry if everything wasn’t right at home (1Tim 3:1-5). And when Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “Be faithful in little things, and I’ll put you over much,” the little things are things only they can do, honoring their promises to their inner circle: their health, spouse, and children.
3. What does their public life say about the fruits of their work, worship, recreation, and volunteering – is it more about serving, or being served? Do they go after things like attention, approval, and pleasure, or do people naturally want to give them these things? Look at who they run around with, and how they spend their time in public.
4. Where does their money and power come from, and where do they go? Who do they owe, and who owes them? Follow the money, because Jesus taught us that our hearts will follow our treasure (Matt 6:21).