Stunted Spiritual Growth: an unnatural development

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia describes stunted growth as follows:

Stunted growth is a reduced growth rate in human development. It is a primary manifestation of malnutrition in early childhood. Once established, stunting and its effects typically become permanent.

My play on words:

Stunted spiritual growth is a reduced growth rate in spiritual development. It is a primary manifestation of malnutrition in spiritual development. Once established, its effects typically affect the testimony of Christ.

I fear that an epidemic is occurring in the body of Christ. Not because there is a shortfall of nutrition but rather one of election… an election of malnutrition.

That sounds unnatural doesn’t it?

To think that a person would “elect” to become malnourished is a preposterous statement, but that is exactly what happens to a believer who elects not to spend  time daily in God’s word. This person deprives their spirit of the proper nutrients required to continue to grow at a healthy rate, and if neglected long enough, their spirit will become stunted.

Before I continue… I would like to clarify my thoughts on the difference between being spiritually stunted, and spiritual immaturity.  So here are the “basics.”

  1. Spiritual immaturity is a display of adolescence behavior based on transitional stages of spiritual development.
  2. Spiritual stunting,  is an interruption of spiritual growth due to spiritual  malnutrition.

image: microsoft clipart

Busy lifestyles serve as a perfect catalyst to draw attention away from daily devotions and sets the table for spiritual stunting.

Due to this busyness, and not finding time we begin to settle for substitutions such as Christian literature, music, radio programs, blogs, forums, etc… to feed our spirit.

Though these are all good venues that encourage, uplift, and provoke thought, they serve as the “gravy” of a meal, not the main course.

Imagine if the only thing that you consumed was gravy, how long would it take before your body began to show signs of distress, fatigue, an acute loss of agility, not to mention the process of wasting away?

So what are the indicators that expose the condition of spiritual stunting?

In order to recognize them, we first need to distinguish what healthy spiritual growth is.

A person who becomes a “new creation” in Christ have their feet set on a firm foundation. They have been given all of the proper “nutritional” aids needed to grow into a healthy spiritual individual who reflect the qualities of Christ.  Those qualities are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22).  These attributes, or fruits of the spirit, are indicators of a person who is healthy in their spiritual growth.

I propose that a person who is spiritually stunted is one who continually (key word) displays characteristics contradictory to the attributes of the healthy spiritual growth indicators. Those contradictions are;  hatred, unkindness, impatience, unfaithfulness, harshness, lack of control, strife, and selfishness to name a few.   They show little to no development in overcoming their negative or un-Christ like behavior which is usually manifested and exposed under stress or extreme pressure.  They rarely take ownership of their faults and lean on well worn excuses to explain away their negative responses.  If  this negative behavior becomes a consistent trait, then the person who displays it, not only functions in sin but suffers from stunted spiritual growth whose only reward is to earn the title of hypocrite.

I can not stress enough how dangerous it is to become “spiritually stunted.” It not only cripples the one who is  in this condition, it cripples the entire body of Christ and causes  those who stand outside the walls of salvation to turn away and follow the making of themselves.

No one is immune to stunted spiritual growth.

It can occur at any level of development, and unfortunately, there are more people who suffer from it then are aware.  They inhabit the pews to the pulpit, from laity to leadership, and serve as a stumbling block not only to fellow believers, but the world. Their reputation, the respect people have for them, and above all the testimony of Christ is in danger.

A parting thought: A person suffering from stunted spiritual growth does not need to suffer permanence.  The remedy to growth rejuvenation is simply returning to a daily intake of  God’s word….the Bible.

“May we remember that gravy by itself serves no nutritional value.   Its intended use is to accompany the main meal.”



8 thoughts on “Stunted Spiritual Growth: an unnatural development

  1. Mom This was an amazing piece of writing. You are my gravy today. I did do my devotions this morning in 3 John and read about Gaius, but i needed this bit of encouragment. I know for me, sometimes when things are stressful (like this whole past week!) I lose some of my spiritual fruit and pick up my old sinful nature. I regret it so much when a verse quickly pops into my head, after i have already said or done something wrong. I strive to constantly obtain those spiritual fruits.

    I really am glad you are a tool for ministry. Thanks. Thanks for helping me stay focused on my main meal:)


  2. Amen to the fruit of the Spirit…sure to always taste good! Praise God for his Word to feast upon…daily doses are required for FULL effect!

    Thanks Donna!


  3. I rejoice that we don’t have to stay stunted and yet my selfishness causes me too. I am learning each day that focusing on Christ and the Cross and what Jesus did for me is enough to cause me to pray and read my Bible because I want that fellowship more with Him than I need to have anything else. Donna right on!


  4. How absolutely true and how easy to fall prey to the trap of busyiness. And yet, God’s Word never fails to be waiting for us to return nor does the Lord stop desiring us to draw us closer to Him if we just seek Him.


  5. Amen! I met a guy this past week that has a condition that caused the growth of this limbs to be stunted and that is a great visual of exactly what you are talking about. Not that my new friend has any choice nor did he do anything to cause his condition. But when Jesus looks at us is he seeing a healthy vine that is a living and glorifying him as part of His kingdom or does he see me as a shriveled vine that is not useful to His kingdom…

    Thanks Donna for sharing!


  6. OK, I’m convicted. I have, at times, let the reading of a book about Christian living be my devotions for the day. I rationalize by telling myself that, after all, I have read verses in the text. Easy to fall into the trap of not getting a decent daily meal out of the Bible. So many online services that will send you a verse-a-day or a thought for the day, but it’s not enough.


  7. I feel that unless one constantly keeps the Word life and prayer life fresh their spiritual nutrition will be weakened.It is very easy
    to become stagnant and automatic in our quiet time if we do
    not totally concentrate upon growing in the Lord.

    If we do not eat properly,we will have vitamin problems.If we neglect spiritual food, we will have not just spiritual numbness
    but we will suffer from regression in our relationship with the

    After all when He elected us,He expected us to grow in the fruit
    of the spirit.We seem to spin wheels instead of walking in the
    light.A lot of Christian activity does not replace concentration
    upon HIM.

    Good solid thinking on your part!


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