The Gospel of Healthy Living and Healthy Aging

Four closely similar verses in the New Testament of the Bible express an intriguing idea. The verses are Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; and Luke 19:26. The verses as expressed in the Revised Standard Version (a version of the Bible that is acceptable to both Catholics and Protestants, unlike most other versions) are:

Matthew 25:29: “For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Mark 4:25: “For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Luke 19:26: “I tell you that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with these texts, here is a summary of one of the parables which form the context to these verses. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-29), a man going on a journey called his three servants and entrusted his property to them. To the first, he gave five talents, to the second, he gave two, and to the third, he gave one talent. A talent was an amount of money said to be equivalent to more than fifteen years’ wages of a laborer in those days. On his return, the master asked the servants individually to account for what they had done with the amounts they were given. The one who got five talents had made an additional five and the second one had similarly made an additional two. But the third made excuses for not working with his one talent. He had simply buried it. The master ordered that the one talent be taken away from him and be given to the first servant who now had ten talents; he declared: “For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).

This idea of taking away the very little that a person has and giving it to another who already has very much has to be taken seriously as it occurs in four separate passages in three books of the New Testament. As statements of Jesus or ones endorsed by Him, the passages would be especially worrisome if they were to be interpreted literally as a general guide for behavior. It would mean that Jesus was advocating a deliberate policy of enriching the rich at the direct expense of the poorest. Most readers of this statement as well as the equivalent statement following the similar Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19:12-26) must have been puzzled, not knowing what to make of this seemingly socially repulsive idea. Through the knowledge contained in the work “In the Light of Truth, The Grail Message” by Abd-ru-shin, it is now possible to draw the very important lesson of these Parables.

Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the Love of God, would certainly not recommend a policy of depriving the poorest to further enrich the wealthy. In the above closely similar verses of the New Testament, Jesus was not setting out a social policy or making a recommendation; rather He was drawing attention to the effects of one of the Divine laws which manifest the Will of God —- the immutable Law of Movement. This Law is especially important because all the laws or spiritual principles that are the expression of the Will of God in Creation operate within the framework of the Law of Movement.

Movement/motion is a fundamental principle throughout Creation. Progress, preservation, and restoration are achieved only through movement of the right kind. In general, any ability that is used improves; an ability which is not used declines and could, over time, be completely lost. The principle of adaptation with which biological scientists are so conversant is a consequence of the Law of Movement. Thus, there are species of birds which can no longer fly because their wings have deteriorated on account of their failure to use them over thousands of years. By an analogous process, when a person makes use of his/her talents and endowments, such talents flourish and get even better; talents and endowments which are not used degenerate and are eventually lost. The fact that "practice makes perfect" and that "stagnation is retrogression" are effects of the Law of Movement. Businesses that continually innovate are the ones that gain market share and thrive. It is in this sense of an expression of God’s Will manifesting on earth as a natural law that we should understand and interpret the four similarly worded verses cited above. Through them, Jesus sought to teach us that human beings must observe the Law of Movement and that there are bad consequences for those who do not conform to this immutable natural law.

It turns out that this Law of Movement to which Jesus Christ sought to draw attention is one of the major keys to healthy living and healthy aging. Dr. Walter M. Bortz of the Stanford University School of Medicine studied for many years the relationship between the state of health and the use and disuse of various organs of the physical body. In a review of the subject, he concluded that much of illness and even biological changes thought due to aging may really be due to simple disuse.

He wrote: “‘Use it or lose it’ seems like a trite, trivial aphorism. But it is not. Contained within those five small words is immense wisdom. Each cell, tissue, and organ requires active stimulation to function optimally. When denied maximum usage, deterioration in function and structure is certain to follow.” He asserts that “at least part of what passes as change due to age is not caused by age at all but by disuse” (See the whole issue of Executive Health, Vol. 20, no.3, December 1983).

Researchers have since compiled massive evidence of the many deleterious effects of disuse and the strikingly beneficial multiple effects of activity. The process reminds us of the servant in the Parable of the Talents who lost his talent because he buried it instead of using it.

The practical lesson is that people of all ages should engage in appropriate exercise to keep their bodily organs healthy. Exercise may, of course, take many forms. Walking, as briskly as one can, is an inexpensive and highly beneficial exercise for everybody, even for those who have reached an advanced age. In obedience to the Law of Movement, a retired person should continue to keep busy to an appropriate extent physically and mentally as well as spiritually. While the appropriate kind and level of exercise is good for the body, excessive exercise is harmful as it ignores the need for balance and goes against the rhythm in Creation. It should be stressed that the need for and benefits of activity and movement are not limited to the physical; we must also be active mentally and spiritually. Indeed, many of the problems of humanity today are due to the indolence of the spirit.

To keep healthy and age gracefully, we should observe the Law of Movement, which the Lord Jesus Christ sought to teach humanity through the Parables of the Talents and of the Pound. Thanks to the Grail Message, serious Christians and other genuine seekers can now have a much deeper understanding of the teachings of the Lord Jesus.

by Stephen Lampe

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