A researcher got an unexpected result when testing the timeless advice found in the Bible and could only conclude that Christian virtues improve well-being for those who put others before self versus those who put self first.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
– Matthew 22:37-39
A California researcher decided to put that concept to the test in an experiment on well-being. The test subjects were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to do something for themselves. The second group was asked to do something kind for someone else.
Eternity News reported that Dr. Jenny George, who describes herself as a mathematician who works in mental health, said the “researcher got a result she didn’t expect.”
“The group that did something for someone else had higher increases in well-being sustained over more time than the group that chose to treat themselves and even boosted their immune system,” George says.
George was recently the keynote speaker at Australia’s 2021 National Prayer Breakfast, which was also attended and addressed by Governor-General David Hurley, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese along with other MPs and senators, and members of the military, medical, and school communities. In other words, it was a pretty big deal.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Speaking on what the most recent experiments and many others before have found, George concluded: “The best way to love yourself is to love others.”
“Good mental health is built on good character,” George says. “But good character isn’t something you’re born with. It’s learned and practiced and cultivated, and sometimes we need help getting breakthroughs.”
“I think this intertwining of mental health and spiritual health might be why there is such good evidence to show that counseling that embraces the whole of a person, including their religious beliefs, leads to the best mental health outcomes for them,” George continued. “Working with every person and their unique spiritual beliefs can be incredibly powerful and effective for their mental health.”
“Good mental health goes hand in hand with the virtues that Jesus teaches us to cultivate as Christians,” George added. “That’s the way we’re made to be. But the passion for human flourishing is becoming like the God who created us in His likeness.”
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
–1 John 4:8