Daily Devotional

How Healthy Is Your Inhibitory System?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matt. 19:21, NIV.

You know the story. The rich young ruler asked Jesus, "What do I need to do for eternal life?" Jesus said to obey the commandments. "I've done that since I was a kid," the young man replied. Jesus' response has made people ponder through the ages. What did He mean by "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor"?

Should every Christian sell everything and donate the money to the poor? If they did that, who would there be to support missions, build churches, and finance Christian radio?

Rather than take this literally, I believe the principle is self-denial. The first thing Jesus said when He called His disciples was "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24, NKJV).

In a day when many psychologists are saying, "Be good to yourself. Don't deprive yourself; that's legalism," Christ urges that we crucify self and follow Him.

After numerous postmortem studies on the brains of criminals, Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist in Washington, D.C., said, "These studies and many others have convinced me that the hallmark of a healthy mind is a healthy inhibitory system."

What's an inhibitory system? It's the system in our brain that puts the brakes on. It says no to tempting desires and allows us to practice self-denial.

Dr. Elden Chalmers, a psychologist specializing in brain development, says, "It is a good practice to deny yourself at least one pleasurable thing each day, just to exercise the inhibitory system and keep it working at peak performance." You never know when you'll need it in an emergency to control your emotions and behavior, to keep yourself out of trouble, or to keep from hurting others.

For your own good, Jesus might want you to sell everything, or He might ask you to say no to a second helping at fellowship dinner or that snack between meals. Or maybe to deny yourself some tempting not-so-good-for-you food.

The secret to good mental health and eternal life is a healthy inhibitory system.

What simple pleasure could you deny yourself today, just to maintain your inhibitory system in good condition?


Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.


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