Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Surely you have heard the old saying, "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." It's attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
It's an oversimplification, of course. Not to say that good sleep habits won't make life better. No doubt about it. But we all know that health, wealth, and wisdom are gifts from God.
How about organizations though? How can a family be healthy, wealthy, and wise? What about a business? What about a church?
First we need to clearly define what exactly health, wealth, and wisdom actually are.
When it comes to our individual existence, we would likely all agree. Health is viewed as the state of being free from illness or injury. We could add to that characteristics like strength and endurance, but that gets into fitness. Wealth is considered to be an abundance of valuable possessions or money. Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
Those are material descriptions (applied to individuals in this case).
Especially when it comes to the church, we must reevaluate the meanings that we associate with those words. Let's meditate and reflect together.
What does a healthy church look like? For sure, in this little article we won't include all of the traits that fit. But consider a few obvious ones.
A healthy church will be in love with Jesus. Emotionally and practically, Jesus will be the full focus and constant message of a healthy church.
A healthy church will be in love with the Scripture. Every Christian I know personally would sign their name to the claim that we look to the Bible as our final authority for all matters of faith and practice. But, healthy churches will do much more than give lip service to that arrangement. A healthy church will express hunger for the truth and happiness in the application of it.
A healthy church will be eagerly dominated by the presence of the Spirit of God. If the fruit of the Spirit is not evident in the life of an individual, we wonder if they are even regenerated. But if a church lacks the gifts and fruit of the Spirit, what are we to conclude? Well, for sure we should assume that it is spiritually ill.
A healthy church will be offensive. That could be taken a variety of ways, couldn't it? What I mean is that a healthy church will be outward focused: ministering to the community and inviting the community into our assembly. Caring for the lost is not just an emotional burden either. And, it's not just a financial commitment to support missionaries. It should include those things. But caring for the lost begins within our own sphere of influence. A healthy church will have a steady stream of unsaved individuals gathering with us.
A healthy church will be sticky. Dan Hawtree used to tell us, "There is no place like this place anywhere near this place. This must be the place." It brought a little smile to our faces, but it also communicated a significant expectation. The church should be a group that people want to stay with. Healthy churches will treat people so well and with such sincere acceptance that there will be no other experience comparable to it.
Finally, a healthy church will be messy. Not tidy, predictable, safe, or routine. The nature of the mission of the church demands that if we are succeeding, there will be believers at every stage of life in our midst: from new believers who know almost nothing and who have barely begun their journey of practical sanctification, to old believers who are so thoroughly versed in the doctrines of Christ that the world is not worthy of their presence (Hebrews 11:38). A healthy church is a spiritual hospital that includes a team of busy workers, groups of trainees, a stream of the spiritually sick and afflicted, an ER, a birthing unit, and even a place where dead men are brought to life.
This is much to expect, is it not?
And we haven't even touched on wealth and wisdom. Allow me to breeze by momentarily on those blessings and then save them for another day.
Our wealth is not earthly, that's for sure. Our treasure is heavenly treasure. Our rewards eternal. A wealthy church inherits the kingdom of God, not the silver and gold of this transient world.
Neither is our wisdom of this world (James 3:15). Our way of doing things and that which we value makes no sense to the mind of the unenlightened. Our position appears to be weak. Our station poor. Our outlook foolish. But if we - the local body of Christ - are spiritually healthy, wealthy, and wise, then we will also be effective. The gates of hell can not prevail against the church. Jesus never fails. Jesus is building His church, and He isn't done. If He was done, then we would be gone.
So, let's look in the mirror. Is our church healthy? The church is no healthier than its members are. So, how are you? How are we? Let's get a check-up. The Spirit will diagnose us. He will prescribe solutions. There is no excuse. We have everything we need to be victorious. We can be (and should be) healthy, wealthy, and wise.