What is it to be “whole”?
The word comes from the Greek words holos and holokleros meaning all, entire and complete. These two words come from the noun holokleria meaning completeness.
In the biblical context of health and wellness, wholeness means being well in spirit, mind and body.
In Paul’s letter of encouragement to the Christians living in Thessalonica, he addresses an aspect of this wholeness when he prays for them:
“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Paul refers to the three major aspects of man’s being – his spirit, soul and body. We are not beings of separate and distinctively different components, but a whole person.
We are a spirit who has a soul that lives in a body.
All of these aspects of man are inextricably interwoven. To be whole, to be complete, each aspect of a person must be well. When any aspect of our being is not well, the other aspects are adversely affected.
Medicine today focuses on the care for a person’s body. Physical health is important so that we can function and do the things God would want us to do with our body. Being physically active, eating well, getting enough sleep and being addiction-free are some of the more obvious things we ought to do to care for our bodies.
It’s also important to care for our soul – to manage our emotions the best we can, to monitor our thinking patterns and to make healthy choices. Our soul-life is impacted by our spirit, and the ‘gateway’ through which this primarily happens is in our mind. I think this is why Paul reminds us that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2) Our mindset and our thinking patterns can truly and radically transform us.
For the good or for the worse. For life or for death.
The only way we can understand the key truths of life is to be exposed to what God’s guidelines for living are, as found in the Bible. The Bible holds the keys to being whole and living well. We must not only understand God’s principles, we must live them to be whole.
Finally, since we are first and foremost a spirit, our spirit must be well, because this aspect of us is our core. When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, he became a living being. (Genesis 2:7) It is the spirit of man that gives him real life. We live out this life and interact with the physical realm with the five senses of our body. And it is deep in our soul that our emotions and our minds impact on our choices and subsequent physical behaviour.
We are sinful by nature. We inherit a spirit of death and this sinful nature as it is passed down by Adam’s original sin. (1 Corinthians 15:22) Before salvation, our ingrained habits and lifestyle choices give us certain natural tendencies. Our life experiences contribute to our personalities. After salvation and we are born again spiritually, our challenge is to allow the Spirit of God to transform us into being the kind of person he calls us to be. We must consciously choose to have an attitude of submission to God and a dependence on him to become whole, starting with our spirit.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God’s Spirit, his Holy Spirit, begins to live inside us. As we wilfully allow, our spirit is affected by the Holy Spirit. Our spirit begins to take on the attributes of the Holy Spirit. This new nature will begin to affect our soul. Our entire mindset about God, our self, others and life can be transformed. Our thought patterns can become different. In turn, we can radically change many of our emotions and how we react to life circumstances. As we are guided by God’s principles as found in the Bible, our resulting choices and behaviours will become more and more in line with how God wants us to live. This is how we become sanctified and holy. This is how we become a complete or whole person in spirit, soul and body.
So often, we try to make major changes in our life on our own strength. We leave God out of the picture. You can not achieve a good degree of wholeness in your own strength and abilities. The type of transformation that brings a sense of wholeness can only be done by the one who created you – by God himself. If we are to be whole, we must invite God into the deepest part of who we are – into our spirit and into our soul – so that from the inside out, we can be transformed into the type of person God wants us to be.
Our spirit, soul and body are constantly interacting together, as a whole, as a complete person. That’s the way God designed us. And Paul, inspired by God’s Spirit, shares the secret to being whole.
It’s God himself who can change us through and through, in our entire being, if we desire this and ask him to. Paul tells us that “the one who calls us is faithful to do this.”
Abridged from here