Stewardship Ministries


Take My Health…

Adventists make a great deal about health, and rightly so. Growing in Christ is a whole-life matter. I don’t know who said it first, but one of my favourite definitions of Stewardship is, “Everything we think, say and do after we say, ‘I believe’.” Our position on health is with good reason, not least by listening to Paul’s counsel, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, who you have from God? You were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

But in recent times, we’re also taking greater notice of the connection between healthy living and respect for God’s creation. While recently browsing the Food & Drink section of the Observer Magazine, my eyes caught the headline of an article by Brian Kateman, “Vegans, Vegetarians and Now… Reducetarians.”

“We know we make choices about food every day. When a friend gave me a copy of The Ethics of What We Eat (by Peter Singer and Jim Mason), I was eating a hamburger at the time. But I read the book and I just couldn’t believe that factory farming was responsible for climate change and biodiversity loss, the poor treatment of 70m land animals worldwide, as well as the increase in heart disease, cancer, and obesity. If people were to cut back (meat consumption) by just 10% that would be a huge win in terms of all these issues.” (Observer Magazine p. 38, 25/06/17).

Sure enough, we’d more than identify with Kateman’s plan to reduce consumption of meat for the sake of the planet. But we’d go further, out of respect for the Creator of planet earth. “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgement has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7).

When Ellen White during the 1860’s discovered eight basic principles necessary for healthy living, little could she have known how relevant and still much needed they are today; personally, socially, and environmentally.

• Diet
The promotion of a vegetarian/plant based diet, is widely recognised as beneficial for both person and planet. “It takes far fewer resources -- land, water, fuel and fertilizer -- to produce a pound of kidney beans than a pound of beef, for example.” (1.)

• Water
Clean water, essential for body hydration, is still in scarce supply for 663 million people. Don’t miss the link between the method of food production and its use of water. For example, it takes 15,415 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef. It takes just 1,849 litres of water to produce a kilo of pasta. “Whichever effective model of conserving freshwater we come up with, we need to come up with one – and sooner rather than later.” (2a.&2b.)

• Temperance
The consumption of narcotic drugs and alcohol remains a public health problem in many parts of the world. “Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represents 5.9 % of all deaths.” (3.)

• Exercise
As children switched from outdoor play to computer games, along came the rise in obesity. “People in some communities have limited resources and limited access to supermarkets. As a result, they may opt for convenience foods that don't spoil quickly, such as frozen meals, crackers and cookies. In addition, people who live in lower income neighbourhoods might not have access to a safe place to exercise.” (4.)

• Air
While air quality in some areas of the world improves, in other areas it is an increasing problem. “The United States and Europe are among the largest emitters of nitrogen dioxide. Both regions also showed the most dramatic reductions between 2005 and 2014… China, the world's growing manufacturing hub, saw an increase of 20 to 50 percent in nitrogen dioxide, much of it occurring over the North China Plain.” (5.)

• Sunlight
Essential for increasing serotonin (a natural mood stabiliser), now problematic due to stratospheric ozone depletion, resulting in an increase of ultraviolet radiation on the Earth's surface. “Nobody wants to get skin cancer, but we've gone from sun worship to sun dread. There is a well-documented relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor bone health.” (6.)

• Rest
The need for Sabbath becomes ever more important in the 24/7 world of work and social media. Says Tim Keller, “Leadership is stewardship - the cultivation of the resources God has entrusted to us for his glory. The Sabbath gives us both theological and practical help in managing one of our primary resources – our time.” (7.)

• Trust
Recent research shows the positive connection between spirituality and health. “Scientists are finally catching up with what people already know – a personal relationship with God helps us make sense out of illness. It gives hope. It changes health-related behaviour and thus reduces the risk of disease.” (8.)

Stewardship of my health is not just for personal reasons, but also for the sake of the community, and to help make this present world a better place. Is that not a little strange for Adventists to suggest? Let C. S. Lewis have the last word:

"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity p.135).

1. “Vegetarian Diets Called Good for People and the Planet”. Report of ‘Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’, December 2016.

2a. “Is the World Running Out of Fresh Water?” BBC Future, April 2017.

2b. How much water is needed to produce food and how much do we waste?, The Guardian, 2016.

3. “Alcohol”, World Health Organisation, Media Centre, Key Facts, January 2015.

4. Childhood Obesity, The Mayo Clinic, Symptoms & causes, Mayo Clinic, November 2016.

5. “New NASA Satellite Maps Show Human Fingerprint on Global Air Quality”, NASA, December 2015.

6. “Benefits of Moderate Sun Exposure”, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, January 2017.

7. “Wisdom and Sabbath Rest” by Tim Keller, (not a Seventh-day Adventist, but shares the benefits of Sabbath for a busy world),

8. “What the Research Says”, Faith & Health Connection Factsheet.

First Things 1st is the monthly blog of the Stewardship Ministries Department of the Trans-European Division. The purpose is to restore and strengthen the principles of biblical stewardship, leading to a strong, mature, and joyful faith in Christ for those we serve.

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Trans-European Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
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