sermon

How Valuable Is Your Health?

Being a faithful steward covers more than just our money. It also

includes caring for our health, one of the greatest of God’s gifts. I sometimes

ask people, “How valuable is your health?” Would any of us take a million dollars in exchange for good

health and all we would have to do is be sick and miserable the rest of our

life? I don’t think so. Good health is the most valuable asset we possess. The

next question then is, “What are you doing to protect your health and even

improve it?”



The article pointed out that when comparing the United States with 34 other advanced countries in life expectancy, the U.S. ranked 27th out of 34. This is not very good especially when the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care.

In a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA July 10, 2013), researchers evaluated the health of the

nation. As a nation, Americans are not the best stewards of health. The article

pointed out that when comparing the United States with 34 other advanced

countries in life expectancy, the U.S. ranked 27th out of 34. This is not very

good especially when the U.S. spends more than any other nation on health care.

The article pointed out that as a nation, Americans are not getting their

money’s worth when it comes to experiencing good health.



They also pointed out the leading

causes of premature death in the U.S.

Poor diet was number one, followed by smoking, high blood pressure,

overweight, low physical activity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, air

pollution, and alcohol. These are all factors that can largely be controlled—and are with the

exception of pollution, are all lifestyle choices. Eighty-two percent of the

years of life lost due to premature death can be attributed to these first eight

factors.

Good stewards of health will look at

these major causes of early death and take preventive actions. Let’s consider

the first cause of early death--poor nutrition. The study found 8 nutritional

practices responsible for the majority of deaths. Diets high in red and

processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages , added sugars, sodium and

salt. Diets low in fruits and

vegetables, whole grains (eating too much highly refined white bread, , white

rice, and cereals), nuts and seeds, fiber. Furthermore we do not eat enough

healthy fats as found in olive, soy and vegetable oils, flax seed, walnuts and

avocadoes. However we eat far too

much saturated fat, which is found in solid fats such as butter, coconut oil

and animal fats.



How many are eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity daily, keeping their weight in a healthy range, making sure their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are in the healthy range?

Sounds familiar doesn’t it, and this

has been taught in our church for over 100 years. “Grains, fruits, nuts, and

vegetables, constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 296). This

quote echoes the whole, plant-based diet prescribed by God in Genesis 1:29.

Other recent research from the

Adventist Health Study (JAMA Internal Medicine, published online

June 3, 2013) verifies that the vegetarian diet, high in fruits, vegetables,

whole grains and nuts, is best for our health and decreases death from any

cause by 12% (by 19% for vegan men). The accompanying editorial in the same

medical journal commenting on this study was titled, “Should everyone be a

vegetarian?” The author pointed out the obvious advantages of a vegetarian diet

to one’s health: lower risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and many

cancers. Scientific evidence

now shows that vegetarians live significantly longer than

non-vegetarians. The implication was that everyone could benefit by eating more

like a vegetarian.



The next question to ask is, “How

many of our church members are following this good advice?” How many are eating

a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity daily, keeping their weight

in a healthy range, making sure their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood

sugar levels are in the healthy range? If we are not working proactively on

these critical determinants of good health, are we being good stewards?



None of us are

perfect, physically or morally. We

can all make improvements and we need God’s help in being faithful stewards of

all of God’s gifts to us. As we ask for God’s guidance daily, let’s include the

stewardship of health. As good stewards of our health, will we enjoy the

benefits of better health and a longer life. In addition, we will also be more

productive in God’s vineyard of life which is the goal of all good stewards.

Don Hall
Dr. Hall. DrPH, CHES, is a

graduate of Loma Linda University. He is the founder of Wellsource Inc. and Lifelong Health,

two companies that develop resources for promoting healthy living, the first

for corporations, the second for churches. He is actively involved in health

ministry, helping the North American Division and in corporate wellness

throughout the U.S.

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