O Holy Night. The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
We have some lovely Christmas traditions in our family, as well as our church. Perhaps my favorite church tradition is singing O Holy Night at our Christmas Eve candlelight service. All the busyness of Christmas fades into the darkness as we gather close to our families and listen to that glorious song. My daughter, Aubrey Oaks, usually leads, making it even more special to me. The words of O Holy Night have always stood out to me, even as a preteen. I recall a songbook that came with the new family piano. After thumbing through for a song I might be able to play, it was O Holy Night that caught my attention. I studied the words carefully: “And the soul felt its worth.” I was uncertain what that meant, but it seemed the writer was describing a sense of self-worth that did not exist before the birth of Jesus. Somehow His birth placed a value on men’s souls that could be felt. What warmth came through that phrase!
What is the value of the soul? In fact, what is the soul? Most people use the word soul interchangeably with spirit, but there is a difference. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
This verse indicates that there is a difference by naming them separately. While the “real you” is the spirit man, the soul is the mind, the will and the emotions; it’s the personality part of you. Both spirit and soul are housed in the body. Your spirit was breathed out of God’s very being, with a plan for your life that is whole—nothing missing, nothing broken.
God’s Will Is Prosperity and Well-Being
Third John 2 says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” It’s like God is saying, “I want this more than anything else. All I have done, everything I created was for your well-being. I want your prosperity to be a reflection of how well your soul is doing. I also want your health to be a reflection of how strong your soul is. I want everything in your life to reflect a soul that is whole.” But many things can happen to our souls, just like things can happen to our bodies. Hurts, disappointments and rejection come to all of us. For some, rejection begins even before they are born. Without knowing the Father’s love, these hurts can delay, distract or even destroy the plan God has for our lives.
We often go to Isaiah 53:4-5 to see what Jesus did for us on the cross. We know that our sins and our sicknesses were borne on that cursed tree. But Isaiah also tells us that (paraphrased) “surely He has borne our griefs. He carried our sorrows. We thought He was stricken by God but He was wounded for our sakes. He was wounded because of our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement needful for us to obtain peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.” He bore any and all pain that robs our peace. He bore the pains of rejection, grief, sorrow and disappointment. Think about the disappointments He faced. All of His family rejected Him, His disciples abandoned Him during His darkest hour. It was so intense He said it brought Him near death. Had He yielded to it, He could have died in the garden of Gethsemane. But He went through it all to deliver us. “With His stripes, we are healed.” The wholeness that we need in spirit, soul and body is provided by His death and triumphant resurrection.
What is your soul worth to God? The life and blood of Jesus!
Soul vs. Body
So how do we take possession of soul well-being? In John 5:6, Jesus said to the lame man at the pool, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Notice Jesus did not ask if he wanted to be well. Of course he did, but Jesus required the man to make a choice to let go of his lifestyle of being sick. Sometimes hurts seem too painful to confront, but we must determine that we are going to give all of our soul to Jesus, and let the work of the cross do what it was designed to do. In Matthew 9, the woman with the issue of blood said, “If I can but touch the hem of His garment, I will be made whole.” She was determined to be whole. The Bible says she had lost everything. Given the disorder she had, we can assume she had lost everything from finances to social standing, all possibility of a family and the shame of medical experimentation. It may have been years since she had felt human touch. What kind of condition would her soul have been in? Her determined faith reached out for Jesus and put a demand on His healing love. Jesus recognized the touch of faith and pronounced to her that her faith had made her whole. Not only did her issue of blood dry up, but all of her being—spirit, soul and body—was made completely whole. What freedom!
Soul health requires an ongoing process of staying close to Jesus. There will always be challenges in this life that hurt. But walking with Him who IS wholeness can bring you to a place where it takes a lot more to hurt you than before. When hurts do come, they heal so fast you hardly notice they were even there. God wants you to be in such peace in your soul that you make no record of pain so it has no opportunity to grip your life and redirect your thoughts, your decision-making or your outlook on life.
Through fellowship with Jesus, around His Word and in prayer, we can allow Him to minister to us and finally allow Him to lovingly show us just what our souls are truly worth.
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