A common greeting among people is a question posed, “How are you?” Interestingly, we anticipate and most often receive the
corresponding response, “I’m fine!” or “I’m doing great.” We have a fabulous pastor who’s standard response is “Never better!” The intended inference being that we’re one day closer to heaven so we’ve never been in better position. While well intentioned, the traditional greeting is an attempt to show concern for those we meet, while hoping the other person doesn’t burden us with the cares of their life.
But what if you greeted a friend with our title question one day? How is your soul? Woah! That brings a whole new element to the relationship! One that has not likely been introduced in the past. What would that say about your level of concern for your friend? It is a question that will require thought before responding.
I’d like to have us ponder this for a moment. I believe that we have lost the art of meaningful conversation. If you were to be honest with yourself by naming the one thing that really matters in this life, what would you say that would be? Wisdom? Being a good person? Making a contribution to our world? Saving the planet? Financial security? Providing for your family? What would be your answer?
When all is said and done and your days are over the proverb tells us that “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last.” (Prov 11:18) The book of Daniel tells us that God’s Kingdom will last forever. Christ challenged his disciples to go out and produce fruit that will last. God’s word tells us that heaven and earth will pass away. So all we are doing to be good people here in our world, to love people and leave the world a better place will one day just pass away. Where is the meaning in that? Now I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t love our neighbors, because that is the second great commandment. Nor am I suggesting that we shouldn’t be good caretakers of our world and environment. God made us the gardeners of His creation.
But, at the end of the day, what is that thing that really matters, not only in this life but also the next? I maintain that it is my relationship with my creator. It is He who formed me for His purpose. It is to Him that I will answer when I leave this world through death’s door. His instructions to us early on implore us to search for Him with all our heart and soul. (Deut 4:29) The powers and forces of this world can kill your body, but they can’t touch your soul, Jesus said. (Matt 10:28) He also told us that the greatest commandment was that we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. (Mk 12:30) In closing his letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “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 that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” (1 Thess 5:23)
It is important that our spirits, souls, and bodies be kept in a right relationship with God. Often the state our spirits and bodies can be observed. What can’t be observed is the condition of our soul. So when we ask the question, “How is your soul?” we’re asking a very different question than “How are you?” We’re being intentional about the thing that should really matter to you because it matters to me.
I once had a longtime family friend greet me after not seeing one another for many years, “Well, Bill … how are things between you and God?” I must admit that I was both caught off guard and drawn immediately into conversation with him. No one had ever asked me a question that so begged an answer of eternal significance. At the same time, I knew instantly that he asked the question out of a genuine concern for me and my eternal well-being.
Asking about the condition of one’s soul will hopefully prompt a thoughtful response and generate some truly meaningful conversation that causes you both to open the Scriptures to find out what God says about our relationship with Him. It’s important that we talk about such things. The prophet Malachi wrote, “Those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. In Hebrews 10:24 Paul writes that we should not forsake the gathering together of the believers. We need to get together and talk about matters of eternal significance, encouraging one another and learning from each other.
When we die, our bodies are laid to rest in the ground, for the time being. At the moment of our death, our souls will move to our eternal destinies. There are two options for our eternal souls that are determined by the choices we make here in this world. The condition of our soul will determine what choices we make in this life. Did we place our faith in Jesus or did we put that choice off preferring to rather pursue the temporary pleasures of this world. What is important to you?
How is your soul? One of my favorite quotes comes from A. W. Tozer a pastor of decades ago. He opened his book, “Knowledge of the Holy” with this observation, “What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” Indeed, what comes into your mind when you think about God will determine how you care for your soul.
There is much more to be said on this topic. For this moment it is important to acknowledge the critical nature of caring for one another’s souls through conversation and at a minimum beginning the conversation.