Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Date: May 21, 2016

Audio Sermon: Click on the play button below.

What does it mean to be spiritually mature? And what does it mean to be emotionally mature? Well, emotional health and spiritual maturity are actually inseparable. You cannot be spiritually mature and emotionally immature. It doesn’t work. It can’t work. Our spiritual lives are inextricably tied to our emotional life.

Most of us have some category of life in which we are an emotional infant. A category that we have not surrendered to God; a category that we have not relinquished our hold on so that the power of God’s spirit and the blood of Jesus can heal us.

Emotional underdevelopment is not always obvious. For most, it is the part of us that we like to hide and keep in the dark. But when we don’t address our emotional dimension, we will always be plagued by its effects.

Emotionally unhealthy spirituality allows deep underlying layers of our lives to remain untouched by God. The sad reality is that most of us will not tend to these wounds and move forward until the pain of staying where we are is unbearable…until we see a “need” to address our unresolved issues.

We can’t change if we are ignorant or in denial of who we are and the parts of us that are weak and still immature. We must embrace the truth about our present state and who we are and invite God to change us and then be willing to surrender those dark places in our lives to him so that his light can shine in our hearts to transform us into people who reflect his image more and more every day.

Emotionally Unhealthy Practices

*Based on Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nashville: Nelson, 2006)

1. Using God to Run from God

This happens when we use God as a pretext for appearing spiritual but not really drawing closer to God; being preoccupied with “God-activities” but not attending to our personal relationship with him.

2. Ignoring Emotions (Anger, Sadness, Fear, etc.)

Many people are taught to ignore emotions (as though they are entirely untrustworthy), but your emotions come from your inner self, and the way you feel can indicate what’s going on inside you.

3. Dying to the Wrong Things

We are to die to the sinful parts of who we are: defensiveness, detachment, arrogance, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, etc. But sometimes people feel that they are supposed to die to who they are as an individual. “Dying” does not mean suppressing who you are.

4. Denying the Past’s Impact on the Present

Just because you come to faith in Christ doesn’t mean your past is erased. The past is an important part of who we are, one that can help orient us toward where we need to go and prevent us from returning to where we don’t want to be.

5. Dividing Our Lives Into “Secular” and “Sacred”

We tend to live compartmentalized lives (Sunday-God; Monday-Saturday-Life). It is so easy to compartmentalize God to Christian activities around the church. This does not imply that believers just revert to awful lives of sin once they leave church, but that they often forget exactly who they are from Sunday to Sunday.

6. Doing “for” God Instead of Being “with” God

Misconception: Doing lots of work for God gives a false sense of spiritual maturity, commitment, responsibility, and obedience.

7. Spiritualizing Away Conflict

This happens when we sweep things under the rug in an effort to promote “love” or “unity.” Such efforts can be a delusion. Smoothing over disagreements doesn’t solve anything and it leaves the issue hanging in the air whether you realize it is there or not. We lie to ourselves and others by ignoring real issues.

8. Covering Over Brokenness, Weakness, and Failure

The desire and pressure to be seen as strong and spiritually “together” looms over each of us. We tend to feel guilty for not measuring up. We never will and no one is perfect; we are all sinners. Trying to cover that up that fact is to deny reality. We are all broken people in need of forgiveness and redemption

9. Living Without Limits

When what you do seems to never be enough in your eyes. Some people carry around this confused and even guilt-stricken complex wondering if they are doing enough or if they are doing what they are supposed to do for God. Guilt leads to discouragement, and discouragement leads to defeat.

10. Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey

It is not our responsibility to assess the spiritual journey of someone else. The trap of being judgmental is that you quickly lose sight of your own issues. We end up becoming self-deceived because when we look at others this way, we inevitably compare them to ourselves.


3 Comments so far:

  1. Dan Gallagher says:

    A good word!

  2. Doug says:

    This, the “what,” is really well identified. I’m too familiar with too many of them. Looking forward to Part 2, explaining “how” to get to, confront, and resolve these traps.

    (“theophostic prayer” can be a tremendous help)

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