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.”
- Spiritual immaturity is a display of adolescence behavior based on transitional stages of spiritual development.
- Spiritual stunting, is an interruption of spiritual growth due to spiritual malnutrition.
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.”
- Don’t Let Division Stunt Your Growth (barryweddle.wordpress.com)
- Chapter-a-Day 2 Thessalonians 1 (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Be A Baby (the1stfollower.com)