How Understanding Your Spiritual Growth Deeply Impacts Your Marriage
Do you ever feel “stunted” in your spiritual growth? Your relationship with the Lord is not growing, and from your point of view, everything looks the same?
If you have been following this series, maybe you have written your testimony (and shared it with your spouse!) and embraced the purpose God has for your marriage, but you don’t know where to go from here.
It is time to take an honest look at our spiritual condition; where we’re at spiritually, where we need to grow. Understanding our spiritual condition is exciting! It helps us put a symbolic stake in the ground, so when we look back, we can see how much the Lord has done in and through our lives.
When we see God’s work in our life, our spouse’s life, and our marriage, it brings hope!
Spiritual condition? What’s that mean?
I wondered the same thing when I was first asked to be honest about my spiritual condition.
I was limiting it to being “saved or not saved.”
But guess what?
It is possible to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and stop growing spiritually; being stunted. Going through each day blissfully unaware and apathetic to the abundant life God has waiting for you…
Perhaps a story will help set the stage for understanding our spiritual condition.
When our third child was just shy of 2 years old, he started exhibiting several symptoms of illness. A daily rash, fever, painful movement, and lethargy. We took him to urgent care and treated him for strep. But the symptoms persisted.
Our concerns climbed along with his fevers as we watched him limp around the house. Our vibrant, 21-month-old sunshine was in pain, but we didn’t know what was causing it.
We checked into Children’s Hospital and spent 2 weeks in three different departments, ruling out possible diagnoses. Scans, x-rays, blood draws, biopsies, medications, and questions filled our days until finally he was diagnosed with systemic JIA, a rare form of juvenile arthritis that affects the whole body.
His flare-up had persisted undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, for so long that it was beginning to affect his vital organs.
But praise God, after his diagnosis, the physicians worked with us to create a treatment plan, our son was discharged from the hospital, and he began the long (and at times painful) journey to healing.
What is your spiritual condition?
Are you healthy, growing spiritually in your relationship with the Lord? Being obedient to His Word and His purpose for your marriage?
Or have you been ignoring the symptoms of illness; the signs that something needs attention?
If our spiritual growth is stunted, God will reveal it is happening through the inevitable problems it creates.
Overlooking those problems, or trying to fix them on our own, will not make them go away. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, our problems will grow and multiply until eventually we find ourselves (and our marriage) painfully sick, in desperate need of a Physician.
When we ignore the spiritual condition of ourselves and our spouse, our marriage goes into meltdown mode.
So, what are we to do when we start seeing those signs and symptoms, those red flags?
Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news
When we go to the doctor, we seek the answer to two questions:
1) What is wrong; what’s the diagnosis?
2) How do we get better; what’s the treatment?
To answer both questions, the root cause of the symptoms must be revealed. This is true for our physical bodies and it’s true for our spiritual lives.
Let’s trace the symptoms back to the root.
Let’s identify our spiritual condition.
What are your “symptoms”? What does it look like where you are now?
(*Please note: I use the term “symptoms” in this post more to reference indicators of spiritual condition rather than negative signs - as in signs of sickness).
The Bible tells us the most important thing in our life is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39).
Are you loving the Lord with your whole life? Heart, mind, and soul?
Do you love your spouse (and others) as you love yourself?
Answering those questions is a first step to revealing where we are spiritually.
Let’s look at the stages of spiritual growth...
Before we put our faith in Christ and believe that He paid the price we could not, we are living in unbelief.
Our diagnosis (aka spiritual condition)? Spiritually dead.
Treatment needed? Hear and understand the gospel, learn the truth about God’s grace, accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Then, we are born again (John 3:1-8).
When something is new to us, we are full of ignorance. That is not an insult, it’s just the truth! Spiritual ignorance is evident when we are a spiritual infant who’s hurting because that pain impacts all aspects of our lives, including marriage.
Without considering our own part, we cannot understand why our faith alone isn’t changing our marriage.
Our diagnosis (aka spiritual condition)? Spiritual infant.
Treatment (action) needed? 1. Pray- begin talking to God and practice listening to what He is teaching you. 2. Learn from other believers who are further in their spiritual journey; they can share how their old, worldly habits have been replaced by new, Godly habits (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:22, Romans 6:6).
If you are around children in any capacity for any length of time, it is evident that they are very self-centered. The same is true for spiritual children. Consistent struggle with self-centeredness is an indicator that we are a spiritual child.
Our diagnosis (aka spiritual condition)? Spiritual child.
Treatment (action) needed? 1. Read God’s Word consistently; let its truth mold your mind. (Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 2. Connect to other believers: small group, church, Bible study (Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 20:28, Matthew 18:20). 3. Begin learning your mission as a believer in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Share His love and truth with others.
Spiritual Young Adult
As we grow, our ability to see beyond ourselves and our own wants/needs develops. Our spiritual eyes are opened. We move from self-centeredness to God and others-centeredness as we seek lives of service.
Our diagnosis (aka spiritual condition)? Spiritual young adult.
Treatment (action) needed? 1. Recognize you are equipped for ministry- both in your marriage and elsewhere. God will prepare you to do His work, and use your experiences to grow you into a spiritual adult (2 Timothy 3:17, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 3:6) 2. Look for ministry and service opportunities (Philippians 2:4). Ask God where He wants to use you to be His hands and feet, then step out in faith. He is with you (Matthew 28:20, Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9). 3. Be a disciple and begin discipling others who are spiritually younger than you (Matthew 28:19, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 2 Timothy 2:2).
If you are a parent, you’re also a teacher. As parents of four young children, my husband and I understand the important roles we have as Mama and Daddy. We not only need to be loving and patient in our parenting, but intentional and strategic as well, tailoring our teaching to the specific needs of each child.
Our diagnosis (aka spiritual condition)? Spiritual parent.
Treatment (action) needed? 1. Be intentional and strategic in your teaching and training. Know your disciple; what are their strengths and weaknesses, sin struggles, spiritual condition? 2. Teach, disciple, and encourage others to start discipling. (John 13:34-35, Colossians 1:9-10, 2 Timothy 2:2). 3. A good resource for information on teaching and training disciples is: Organic Discipleship: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity and Leadership by Dennis McCallum and Jessica Lowery
Vow to change: an encouraging call to action
It’s time to do some homework! Remember, we all have to start somewhere; let’s figure out where that somewhere is, put the stake in the ground, and start moving forward.
With an honest and humble heart, ask the Lord to show you your spiritual condition. Look at the spiritual wheel, read through the above diagnoses, and evaluate your place. This is where you put the symbolic stake in the ground and move forward in faithful pursuit of the Lord and His calling on your life.
Once you’ve identified your spiritual condition, check out the treatment (action) needed to help you move forward.
Repeat numbers 1 and 2 above for your spouse and children. **Do not sit in judgment of them!** Carefully evaluate where they’re at in their walk with the Lord and ask God how He wants to use you to disciple them toward change.
Sit down with your spouse, pray together, then discuss the assessments of your spiritual conditions. Commit to helping one another and holding each other accountable in your actions (treatment plans).
It is almost impossible to fulfill our calling from the Lord when we are weak as a couple; it makes us ineffective at reaching, teaching, and impacting others.
when we stop looking at each other with a competitive eye; when we stop judging our spouse’s weaknesses, we move toward completing each other, and God is glorified.
Knowing our spiritual condition gives us an ability to fulfill our role and support our spouse in fulfilling theirs. Isn’t it amazing that God has generously given a person to compliment us and be the strength to our weaknesses?!
For more, visit out BLOG or check out this podcast from VowsToKeep: Spiritual Condition.
Where Do I Go From Here? Check it out...
If you know your spiritual condition, but still feel stuck in one place, perhaps you need to take a look at what you are really worshiping; it may be holding you back. If you want to move forward, but need help seeing what’s standing in your way, check out How Do I Get What I Want in My Marriage?
Listen to the corresponding podcast:
How to Help a Hurting Marriage: Spiritual Condition (Part 3):: [Episode 95]