Yesterday we looked at Joseph in the Old Testament and how his approach to life gave him good mental health and made his life purposeful and productive. In the New Testament, we see even better and more direct biblical instruction for good mental health.
The classic New Testament example is the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Everything Jesus teaches in those three chapters is a recipe for good mental health. For example, telling people to avoid anger and harsh language (Matthew 5:21-22) is essential biblical instruction for good mental health. Avoiding sensual materials and associations is a proven way to prevent sexual misconduct (verses 27-28). Avoiding oaths and promises that you may be unable to fulfill is also essential (verses 33-37).
In Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus talks about resolving human conflict. How many of us have been upset by those we disagree with, allowing that to lead to bad mental health? Revenge, hate, and retaliation can eat at our mental stability in destructive ways. In verse 44, Jesus uses the word “agapao” for how we should regard even our enemies. That word is translated as “love” in the Bible, but it means considering the other person of incredible worth. Then chapter six begins with a strong teaching about the importance of forgiveness.
One of the essential parts of the teachings of Christ is His approach to things, wealth, and possessions. Starting with Matthew 6:19 and continuing through verse 34, Jesus talks about how our lives cannot be consumed with getting rich or having material things. So why do billionaires have a poor mental health track record? Paul made a great statement about good mental health in Philippians 4:11-13 when he said, “…I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be rich or poor, how to be full or hungry, and how to suffer need.”
Jesus continues his discussion in Matthew 7 by talking about judging and the importance of not being critical of others. One of the significant mental benefits of authentic Christianity is its capacity to remove guilt from our minds. Baptism is a wonderful tool to leave our sins behind and live a new life. Romans 6-8 gives essential biblical instruction for good mental health by teaching us how to become free of the guilt that will destroy us mentally and spiritually.
The real tragedy is that many of us have had guilt and other mentally destructive teachings crammed down our throats. Jesus wants us to have good mental health and tells us how to achieve it. We need to listen to Jesus and study the life formula He gives us in His Word.
— John N. Clayton © 2023