This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on July 10 2016. The series of posts ‘Diagnosing Spiritual Health’ is drawn from Donald Whitney’s book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health (Navpress, 2001).
Some Christian writers speak about something they call ‘spiritual health’. This refers to the wellbeing of the life of the soul – whether it is alive or dead, thriving or anaemic, growing or shrivelling. It does not necessarily correspond to feelings – one could be upbeat and positive about life, and yet be spiritually unhealthy.
Spiritual health is important for several reasons. For one, health is enjoyable. Being spiritually healthy allows us to enjoy the things of the Christian life – church, prayer, Scripture, service etc. Finding these things a drudgery could be a sign of spiritual unhealthiness. Another reason is that health can give us assurance of our possession of the life of God (cf. Matt. 7:24-27; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 5:13). This assurance is something of a birthright for the Christian – be certain that you have it! Health is also required for growth. The Christian life is not something that is static (unless something is wrong!), but rather one which displays an increasing likeness to our Lord and a growing fruitfulness in service to Christ. A final incentive for spiritual health takes a cue from The Pilgrim’s Progress: We have a wilderness to cross. If we are to make it through this life and reach the Promised Land of heaven, we will need to be fit and healthy to go the distance and overcome the challenges which would stop us.
There are questions and tests that can help to diagnose this spiritual heath. Some can be answered quite quickly, others take much longer to assess and need to be measured over a longer period of time. I’ll raise some of these in the weeks to come, but for now it would be worthwhile to consider two things: How healthy would you consider yourself to be, spiritually? And what are you doing to care for your spiritual health?