Free will vs obedience | Healthy Habits


By Lindell Joseph

Recently, I had a health scare: an incidental diagnostic finding but knew that all would be well based on my faith and trust. The outcome was what I had predicted, but I needed to begin two lifestyle modifications. The mere fact that God had mercy on me caused me to renew my commitment to a heathier lifestyle by reflecting on the concept of obedience.


So, what is obedience?

Obedience may be defined as seeing God’s works of mercy in our health care or medical care and responding appropriately through preventive acts or education (Catholic Culture, 2022). 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.”


We should be reminded that with any surprising medical or diagnostic finding we might choose to use our free will by not adhering to the recommended treatments — eating poorly, not exercising or not taking medications. This free will does not reciprocate the respect and gratitude for one’s health and body as noted in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Here are six reflections for Healthy Habits:

Do we use free will when confronted with medical findings?

1. By procrastinating?

2. By committing to a plan but not being disciplined?

Do we show obedience when confronted with a non-significant medical outcome?

1. By demonstrating thankfulness?

2. By following the recommendations made by your medical team?

Do you know what patient engagement research has shown (O’Connor, 2021)?

1. The least-engaged patients are twice as likely to delay care and are three times more likely to have unmet medical needs than the most-engaged patients.

2. As patients become more engaged with their care, we see “higher levels of preventive health behaviors and preventive care, as well as increased self-management of health conditions.”In summary, I am reminded of Proverbs, 4:4: He taught me and said to me: “Let your heart hold fast my words: keep my commandments, and live!”

Catholic Culture (2022). The Obedience of faith. “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (
O’Connor, W. (2021, July 1). “What is patient engagement in healthcare and why is it important?” TigerConnect (

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