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How’s Your Spiritual Health?


In the middle of a conversation, a friend made the offhanded comment that he was concerned some people in his small group weren’t doing well spiritually.

Our conversation sped along but my mind stopped. I know most of the people in that group. They seem like they are doing well in their faith—at least compared to the average person who claims Christianity. They regularly attend worship services, serve in the church, and, by all appearances, have good marriages and loving families. What did he see that I didn’t?

I woke up the next morning wondering if my friend and I have the same criteria for assessing spiritual maturity. If that sounds like a weird way to talk about our faith, I agree. But it’s clear that, even if we have a hard time articulating it, we all have some sort of grid, some sort of criteria, we use to determine whether we or others are doing well spiritually.

I’ve been asking a wide variety of Christians how they determine spiritual maturity. But it’s funny because, as soon as someone gives an answer, they see its inadequacies.

Some common categories kept coming up. Here are a few questions to get you thinking about how to assess spiritual health… along with some potential issues with the criteria that we most often use as our grid.

  1. Are regular quiet times (Bible reading and praying) necessary to be a spiritually mature Christian?

Most people answer yes. Spiritually mature people read their Bible, preferably every morning.

But I’m not so sure I agree.

Calm down. I know that Christians need biblical truth because “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) But personal Bible reading is dependent on literacy, a translation in the vernacular, and being able to afford your own Bible. All things we take for granted.

But it does raise the question, “Can spiritual maturity be dependent on something that most Christians throughout history didn’t have?”

  1. Can you be spiritually mature and not attend Sunday morning worship services?

I think not. But, in a world where there are a lot of options for how to spend your Sunday mornings, my opinion isn’t always well received.

Claiming one should prioritize Sunday morning worship over vacations or slow mornings or sports will get you labeled as a legalist. You know you live in a weird world when obeying the command to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) is called legalism.

When you live in an individualistic, anti-institutional culture, it’s hard to prioritize spiritual community inside a local church. Don’t we have a personal relationship with God? Well, the Bible never uses that phrase. A “personal relationship with God” sounds like something a modern American might say but would be out of place in church history.

The church father, Cyprian (died in 258), wrote, “No one can have God as his Father, who does not have the church as his mother.”

Is the Christian life more like golf or baseball? Is it something you can do on your own even if it’s more fun to do with a group? Or is it impossible to play without a team?

  1. How important is the fruit of the Spirit?

If you aren’t growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (described in Galatians 5:22-23) does it make sense to say that you are doing well spiritually?

We all know the temptation to live as a “check the box” Christian. Attend church?  Check. Read your Bible? Check. Pray? Check. But Jesus said you can check all the boxes and have a heart that is far from God (Matthew 15:8-9).

Here are some better questions to help you determine how you’re doing spiritually. These are from Donald Whitney’s book, 10 Questions to Diagnose our Spiritual Health.

  1. Do you thirst for God?

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

  1. Are you governed increasingly by God’s word?

 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
John 14:15

  1. Are you more loving?

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
1 John 4:21

  1. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139:7

  1. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

  1. Do you delight in the bride of Christ?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

  1. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?

“…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
1 Timothy 4:7-8

  1. Do you still grieve over sin?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

  1. Are you a quick forgiver?

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

  1. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25

Take a few minutes sometime this week and ask yourself these questions. It might help you identify areas of your life that you need to grow in.

Are you looking to grow spiritually but don't know where to start? Practicing spiritual disciplines are a way a great way to follow Jesus more closely.