One of the richest men alive today, Warren Buffet, earned the nickname “legendary investor” for making most of his money through investments in the stock market. For him, the ability to invest in the right places paid huge dividends. But is this the only form of investment?
The answer depends on the dividends one is looking for. A dividend is payback, reward or profit received for an investment made.
Most people use a savings account at a bank of their choice to receive a small dividend—interest on their money.
Similarly, parents invest time in developing and teaching their children, hoping it will pay dividends of a different kind. Children must be taught principles of right and wrong while they are young so they can grow to become disciplined and well-rounded adults.
Yet there is another investment that is too often ignored—investing in our health!
To understand the importance of making such an investment, consider the final generation in which we live. A time in which peoples’ immune systems are weakened due to a constant bombardment of chemical food substitutes. A time in which diseases such as AIDS, cancer, Chlamydia, dengue fever, tuberculosis and cholera are more prevalent than ever. A time in which contagious bacteria such as MRSA can be passed through an opening in the skin the size of a pinpoint, and deadly viruses such as H1N1 can travel across the globe in a matter of hours.
These and other sicknesses are prophesied to grow much worse in the very near future!
While God promises to protect us from diseases, it comes with a condition: He expects us to do our part. Just because we are in His Church does not mean we can consistently consume artery-clogging helpings of fried food, sugar-laden desserts and artificially colored soda—with little or no servings of fresh fruits and vegetables—and then expect God to heal us so we can continue in the same destructive, self-indulgent behavior.
We must be wise stewards of the body God has given us. Each day should be spent ensuring that we maintain and improve our health to prevent sickness. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prevention will pay dividends, while procrastination will make one poor.
Not taking decisive measures to invest in our health will eventually lead to sickness, disease or worse—death. Just as it is too late to start saving for retirement once a person has stopped working, it is often too late to look for a simple solution after one becomes sick.
If you have not taken proper measures throughout most of your life, it is not too late! You do not have to be constantly sick. God did not create us to be this way. Consistent investment in your health now will yield huge results, which will help you avoid future sickness.
Each decision we make affects the long-term direction of our lives, including our health. A person does not wake up one morning with cancer, but develops it over a period of time. Just because one does not die immediately from smoking cigarettes, eating the wrong foods, or after contracting a disease does not mean he should continue to make the wrong choices.
Yet most do not have the knowledge and wisdom needed to make the right choices, especially when it comes to their health. Many do not exercise on a daily basis or stay as active as they should. Others may exercise, but do not consistently eat the right foods.
Even though we sometimes may not make the best choices, God in His mercy has created an amazingly resilient human body for us to temporarily use. King David praised God for how He made every part of the human body. Psalm 139:14 states, “I will praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Your works; and that my soul knows right well.”
While the body can withstand long periods of mistreatment, a lack of investment into its well-being will eventually catch up with you—guaranteed. Therefore, God admonishes us to appreciate our bodies as exquisite works of art made in His image (Gen. 1:26). He says that it is our responsibility—and ours alone—to nourish, protect and care for it to the best of our ability.
Think about what can result from being sick: missed days at work can mean missed wages or not being able to attend Sabbath services with brethren. This can mean being unable to tithe or fully contribute to the Work.
Ill health also robs our time with God and prevents us from engaging in Bible study and prayer. On the other hand, making a determined effort to be in good shape and eat healthfully will please Him and lead to physical blessings.
We cannot neglect ourselves and “hope” God will keep us healthy. A poor investment in our health will lead to poor results. Wise investments lead to success and happiness.
Notice God’s instruction to Christians in I Corinthians 3: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (vs. 17). This is a serious admonition not to mistreat our bodies.
We are under an obligation, not only to ourselves, but also to the Creator, to do all that we can to “stay in shape” and invest in our health.
Healthy Body Equals Healthy Mind
Stock market investing is a skill that takes years to master. Some find it too complex and instead decide to pay someone else to do it for them. Investing in one’s health is different. No one can do it for you. No one can exercise for you. Nor can anyone else force you to put fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods into your body.
Yet the good news is that becoming physically fit is a generally simple process that will benefit you in ways you may not even realize!
Before looking at the benefits of exercise, briefly examine what God says in His Word. In I Timothy 4:8, the apostle Paul recorded, “…bodily exercise profits little [meaning for a little while].”
We will most definitely reap rewards—profits—for consistent investment in exercise. First, our hearts will grow stronger, which is necessary to survive. Second, our brains will have more oxygen pumped to them by our stronger hearts. This will enable us to think more clearly, plan better, and more effectively motivate ourselves. Third, our muscles, skeletal systems, lungs and circulation will improve, which in turn, will assist our hearts. Do you see the domino effect?
Invest the time to educate yourself about exercise. If you have not been as active in recent years, begin slowly and work your way up. But do not give up! Push yourself to make the right choices and learn from past mistakes. While it may be difficult at first, and may cause you to feel soreness, as your level of fitness and strength improves, you will not have as many aches and pains.
Walking is an excellent way to begin getting into shape. It is also one of the most effective ways to fight mental fatigue and depression.
Studies have shown that walking is a suitable activity for nearly everyone. Gather the whole family and walk around the neighborhood. It is a great way for you to bond and share special times together, while also getting the extra “profit” of exercise.
Before taking a long walk, take measures to avoid cramps and stiffness afterward. One way to warm up is to first walk slowly and then pick up the pace after a few minutes. Careful stretching before or after walking can also help.
Another way to make walking more enjoyable is to wear the right shoes and comfortable clothing. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and wear sunscreen if you are walking during a sunny day.
For those who prefer more strenuous workouts, a gym membership or home gym may be viable options. Weigh the “pros and cons” of the two options, such as cost, convenience and privacy. Personal trainers are usually available at the local fitness center and are trained to provide advice for your body type and fitness level. Some gyms even offer free health assessments to their members, or personal training services at a discounted price. Be sure to investigate all options.
If you are overweight, a great way to burn fat is to build muscle. Do not be afraid to sweat a little. Both men and women will see tremendous health benefits from lifting weights. Be sure, though, not to overdo it by starting with light weights.
Pace yourself when exercising. In the beginning, learn proper methods of stretching and warming up so you do not injure yourself. Take it slowly and learn the techniques of the activity before diving in.
Like everything else, practice balance and moderation. As mentioned earlier, bodily exercise benefits us for a short time and it is therefore critical to be consistent. If you stop or are not exercising at all, your health will slowly deteriorate.
If you do not enjoy walking or lifting weights, try jogging, jumping rope, swimming, skiing or volleyball. Play tennis or softball regularly.
There are many activities to help you stay fit. Find something you enjoy and stick to it. But make sure it keeps you off the couch! Drive yourself to keep improving and you will reap the dividends of your investment.
You Are What You Eat
Just as exercise benefits you, proper eating habits are one of the best ways to guarantee excellent physical condition. Learning proper nutrition will also involve a time investment.
As we approach the end of the age, we should become more conscious of what we put into our bodies. The old adage “you are what you eat” is even truer today than ever before.
A general rule: avoid processed food, which most often comes in boxes, packages or plastic bags. The picture on the container may look nutritious, but it is important to research if it really is. Much of what is sold in supermarkets has little or no nutritional value—with some items being nothing more than poison in a box!
Trans fats, refined grains, refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, excessive salt and “white foods,” such as white flour, should be avoided. White flour, for example, goes through extensive modification to make it more “appealing,” including a bleaching process. The innocent looking can of soda on the shelf contains approximately 7.5 teaspoons of refined sugar. How would you like to eat 7.5 teaspoons of sugar?
The human body does not know how to deal with refined sugars and sweeteners, so it stores them as excess glycogen in the liver. This is released into the body roughly every five hours, triggering an insulin response, which leads to fat storage and, in some cases, diabetes. As God says in His Word, we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7).
Avoiding wrong foods, especially junk food, is critical. Whenever possible, eat only fresh foods. You may even consider growing your own vegetables to avoid unhealthy pesticides and genetically modified foods. Many “super foods,” such as broccoli, beans, spinach, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, can be grown in your backyard and do not require too much time and effort.
Although it may seem difficult, think of the dividends that a garden investment could yield! In addition, harvesting the vegetables will cost much less than packaged and highly processed food with “added vitamins.” Think. Why is it necessary to add vitamins when fresh foods themselves already contain them?
Nutrition does not have to be complicated. One of the simplest and most beneficial habits one can learn is to drink more water. Remember the strong heart mentioned earlier? Water dilutes the blood, making it easier for our hearts to pump blood through our circulatory systems. This diminishes the strain on our hearts. It also lubricates our joints and muscles so that we do not feel as many aches and pains. In addition, adequate water consumption gives us more energy, keeps us cooler, and promotes regularity.
Another simple way to improve your health is to systematically eat less. You can probably do with much less food than you think. Vary your meals and eat as many different food types as possible for maximum benefit.
But eat less food not fewer meals. In some cases, a glass or two of water can relieve hunger. Eating an apple is another effective way to suppress hunger pains.
One wrong eating habit that causes enormous health problems is gluttony, which means an overindulgence of food and drink, denoting a lack of self control.
Notice what the Bible says about gluttonous people in Deuteronomy 21:20: “And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.”
Over time, you may have become accustomed to overeating and not recognize that it evidences a lack of self control, and is a sin. Once recognized, you should repent and overcome such behavior. Notice Proverbs 23:21: “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
It is also wrong to eat too little or unnecessarily avoid certain foods, such as clean meats. Remember to be balanced.
No one likes to be sick. Notice what Christ said in Luke 4:23: “You will surely say unto Me this proverb, Physician, heal yourself.” The best way to heal ourselves is to prevent becoming ill in the first place.
As this age draws to a close, we cannot afford to neglect ourselves. Fresh water is becoming more and more scarce. Pesticides are used widely. Genetically modified foods are sold as acceptable alternatives. All these factors contribute to the degeneration of our bodies and our susceptibility to diseases. We are not automatically immune to end-time events such as those described in Matthew 24:7 “…and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.”
Yet in this modern “Information Age,” it is easy to educate ourselves. At the touch of a button, there is a wealth of information available on the Internet. (Stay with reputable sites!)
For example, in just a few minutes, a person can learn much about the advantages of growing an herb garden, and how to start it. Online stores sell just about anything one can think of, from do-it-yourself mushroom kits to outdoor greenhouses.
Libraries and bookstores also carry information about health topics. Scan the local newspaper for events in which healthful eating or exercise will be discussed in your area. Once you start building knowledge, you will automatically want to put it into practice to see results.
To begin to change, one has to first desire to do so—and then invest the effort to make it happen. Invest time into learning about various food types and how they will benefit you. Invest into learning as much as possible about staying healthy, and apply what you learn. You will find yourself becoming sick less often. Seek God regarding this issue. Ask Him to show you areas in which you can improve. Grow in self-control, one of the fruits of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:20).
You must take decisive action now and start investing in your health today. Tomorrow may be too late. Similar to Warren Buffet, who is a “legendary investor,” you too must strive to develop an ability to invest in your health. Failing to invest money wisely will surely bring poverty, while failing to invest in your health will bring far worse consequences that cannot be measured in terms of capital funds.
Great health is priceless. Now is the time to start investing!