Healthy Self Denial Part 1
In the very first post on this blog I mentioned the words
NEW START. Each letter of these words stands for one of the 8 doctors or 8 laws of health. Thousands of people have found that following these 8 laws, has helped them to live a healthier, happier and longer life.
Here they are again:
Today I want to focus on Temperance. If you were to ask a crowd of people today what temperance means you would be met with a multitude of answers, and probably even more eye-rolls. Most people would probably say that it refers to the prohibition movement that started in the 1830's -40's, to fight against alcohol and its consumption. Some might say that it is only referring to diet. But is it possible that our view of "Temperance" is very narrow? What if it means more than just watching what I might eat or drink? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27 something that really made me think about this. It reads like this:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Just what does it mean to "keep under my body" and "bring it into subjection"? The word under in Greek is hupopiadzo and it means to discipline by hardships. And the word subjection in Greek is doulagogeo which means to subject to stern and rigid discipline. Paul is saying here that his body is to be kept strictly disciplined. His statement is inclusive of the whole body, not just the mouth or the stomach, but the entire body and emphasizes keeping it under control.
I did an internet search and surprisingly this is what I noticed on Wikipedia. I found it to be a very thorough and good explanation.
Temperance in its modern use is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint. It is typically described in terms of what an individual voluntarily refrains from doing. This includes restraint from revenge by practicing non-violence and forgiveness, restraint from arrogance by practicing humility and modesty, restraint from excesses such as extravagant luxury or splurging, and restraint from rage or craving by practicing calmness and self-control. (my emphasis supplied)
Now I don't know about you but in the past when I have thought about the word "Temperance", I did not take it as far as the description above. But if I were to describe a true Christian, this sounds pretty close. Yes, you could practice some or possibly all of these things and not be a Christian, but there are very few people who do.
So let's break down this statement a little more... Restraint from revenge by practicing non-violence and forgiveness. This is definitely a quality that Christ possessed. He was always teaching people forgiveness. His answer to Peter's question about how many times we should forgive was "70 x 7". That is a lot of forgiveness, 490 times. But of course He did not mean that this was all we were to forgive. We would probably go through that in less than a year in todays world.
But how can forgiving others benefit our health? Would you believe that Mayo Clinic has an entire article about it?
Holding a grudge or not forgiving someone can cause physical damage to our bodies through depression, anxiety or going into the fight-or-flight mode. Most people don't realize that they are actually hurting themselves rather than the person that they are not forgiving. In an article on the Johns-Hopkins website Dr. Karen Swartz listed several affects of unforgiveness:
There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.
Forgiveness is not just about saying the words. “It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not,” Swartz says. As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged you.
Studies have found that some people are just naturally more forgiving. Consequently, they tend to be more satisfied with their lives and to have less depression, anxiety, stress, anger and hostility. People who hang on to grudges, however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other health conditions. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t train themselves to act in healthier ways. In fact, 62 percent of American adults say they need more forgiveness in their personal lives, according to a survey by the nonprofit Fetzer Institute.
Temperance has also been called self denial. When we forgive someone we deny self and our hurt feelings, choosing instead to let go of the pain. Truly this world would be a much better place if we each practiced forgiveness and denied ourselves the "indulgence" of holding grudges. All of humanity would be happier and healthier. Dare I say disease might be less prevalent? Therefore could we not then call it "Healthy Self Denial"?
Jesus Christ was our premier example of forgiveness and healthy self denial. If we call ourselves Christians we should be Christ-like. If we would be Christ-like it requires time spent with Christ that we may know Him and learn how to truly deny self. Becoming Christ-like might then be equated to enrolling ourselves in a whole body health program, in which He will train us how to have healthy self denial.
**These are beneficial health suggestions. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is not a substitute for speaking with your health professional.