The writer of the Old Testament book of Proverbs advises that guarding your heart, attending to your own spiritual health and formation, is of primary importance because everything you do flows from your heart (Proverbs 4:23). In fast-paced 21st century western culture, taking the time and making the space to attend to your heart—your spiritual health—can be a challenge, but doing so is critical to flourishing. Spiritual flourishing is rooted in a relationship with Christ that is marked by receiving God’s love, being transformed by God’s love, and reaching out to others in love.
Receiving God’s Love
In the beginning, the abundant love within the Trinity overflowed and created the world, culminating in the creation of people. Humanity was created from love for love. Although humanity was created for a loving relationship with God and with each other, the first people chose to reject God’s loving boundaries and instead, chose disobedience to God. This choice resulted in brokenness and fractured relationships between people and God, between people, and with the created world.
However, God is love, and love wills the good of the other, so God set about a plan to restore a broken world and bring about that which is good for people—healing, wholeness and restoration. Eventually, when the time was right, this love broke into the world in a new way when God became a man, Jesus Christ.
Jesus lived among humanity, demonstrating what a life of flourishing looks like. He modeled a relationship of love and dependence on God the Father. Out of this relationship, his love overflowed into the lives of people, healing them, teaching them, and making them whole. Eventually, he showed his love in the greatest possible way, by giving his life as a sacrifice for sin, paying the price that people could not pay themselves, and through his death and resurrection, making a way for people to be restored and made new.
Being Transformed by God’s Love
Choosing to receive God’s love, and the forgiveness for sin made possible through Christ’s sacrifice, is the first step to spiritual health. Then, spiritual growth continues when people attend to their relationship with Christ by cultivating space for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and transform them into the character of Christ.
While the Holy Spirit does the actual work of transformation, people have the responsibility to participate in the transformation process through various means, such as becoming part of a church community, practicing spiritual disciplines, and choosing to remain in a vital relationship with Christ.
Reaching Out to Others in Love
A person who has been loved and transformed by God will, in turn, extend God’s love to others. In a world so often marked by self-centeredness, chaos and loneliness, acts of love are evidence that there is a different—and better—way. As people reach beyond themselves and love their neighbors, they both can flourish, for love is transformative for both the recipient and the giver. It is possible to love others because God loved you first (1 John 4:9).
Spiritual Health Comes Through Love
Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with the heart, soul, mind and strength; he said the second greatest command is to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). By receiving God’s love, being transformed by God’s love, and reaching out to others in love, your heart and soul can flourish.