May 20

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible

Reading schedule

Mark 12:18-27; Galatians 1:1-9; Psalm 109:14-31; 2 Samuel 12-13

Today’s readings give us a litany of human sin and its impact on people’s health. False teachers distorted the truth about the gospel, disturbing the Galatians (1:7). In Psalm 109, the wicked man persecuted and killed the weak and needy. Having seen the afflicted man’s needs, the wicked failed to show kindness. He looked on the weak in ways that made it easier to avoid having compassion on them. Rather than blessing others, he cursed them until cursing enveloped his nature.

In 2 Samuel, we read about David’s sins of adultery and murder which are tied to his newborn son’s sickness and death (2 Samuel 13:14-15). While the Bible teaches that all sickness is not the result of sin (John 9:3), sometimes sin can lead to sickness (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Then we read of David’s son Amnon and his lust for his half-sister, Tamar (2 Samuel 13). He becomes so frustrated that he becomes ill himself.

The psychological dimension of some illnesses has long been recognised in the Bible, even if sometimes neglected by medicine. Amnon does not deal with his sin before God, but allows it to fester and grow, leading him to a plan that would cause harm and pain. He schemes and lies until he has his way with his sister. His violent sin crushes Tamar and destroys her life. It leads to hatred, both within Amnon and Tamar’s brother, Absalom. David hears of what has happened, but sins against everyone involved by refusing to deal with Amnon’s sin. Absalom’s hatred festers within him for two years until he murders Amnon, leading to further problems that end up splitting the nation ofIsrael.

Pain and suffering can often be traced back to human sin. This does not mean that God sends punishment for each sin, but the natural consequences of sin are often painful. Selfish, sinful thoughts that fester and grow can lead to pain and destruction. Thoughts need to be taken captive. We need to go to God for forgiveness and help. We need to enlist the help of others. And when we see wrong, we need to confront it, as Nathan did with David (2 Samuel 12). These steps will not eliminate all hurt and pain, but they put us on the path to relief and healing.

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