I am sure many people have at some point been told by their doctor: “You should really pay more attention to what your body is telling you.” It is quite easy to understand this counsel: it is a matter of supplying the body with things that are good for it. And naturally one should also avoid those things which are harmful and which do not serve for our wellbeing. It is simple enough to find out what this entails in each case. Everyone reacts a little differently.
It only seems logical that this would also be a good piece of advice on the spiritual level: we should really pay more attention to that which our soul consumes and that which is good for our soul. We live in a time in which we are surrounded by many different influences. There are many things that assail us. We must find a way to order and assess these things properly. We are well advised to pay attention to that which comes our way and see to it that we only take in that which does us good, that which uplifts the soul, and avoid those things which have a destructive effect, which burden us and pull us down.
We can find examples in Scripture that illustrate how important such good counsel really is. Just think of Solomon, that great king who had such special gifts. He was actually a wise man, and Scripture records many wise words attributed to him. But as he became older he surrounded himself with more and more pagan women—as was fashionable at the time—and they soon began to have a detrimental influence on him. If only he had listened more to his soul and not allowed himself to become an instrument in the hands of other spirits!
Then there was the prophet Daniel, who grew up in a foreign land, namely at the court of a heathen king. But Daniel felt a longing to continue practising the faith which he had been taught at home, even here in this strange land. He refused to defile himself with the food and drink of the king’s table. Daniel listened to his soul. He was well aware that he was only to consume things that were good for him and avoid those things which were not of benefit. It is our daily struggle to reject things that are harmful for our souls, and to instead focus on those things that are uplifting and useful to us. After all, we have been equipped with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Should we not make greater use of this gift and entrust ourselves increasingly to the guidance of this divine Spirit? Let us do this. He is, as it were, the divine physician who counsels us.
For example, take the things that are brought to our attention by the media. I know from my own experience how we tend to respond: we rage about certain things and, while we may even hear one or the other good thing, we cannot help feel burdened by others. Let us avoid those things!
Let us concentrate on the things that do our hearts good, the things that edify our souls, and the things that are good from the perspective of the divine physician. And let us avoid those things that are harmful and that seek to pull us down!
(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)