What are three bad habits that will kill your spiritual growth as a Christian and stunt your faith? What things can you think of?
A Bad Temper
One guy said that he lost his temper with his wife and said something he regretted. In actuality, he didn’t lose it; he found it. But maybe he needed to lose it. Anger is almost always a pride issue when we lose our temper. Righteous indignation is not what I’m talking about here because when we see a child abused, children aborted, or rioting and looting, getting angry is a natural feeling. What I mean by losing our temper is when someone cuts in front of us in traffic or in line and suddenly we unleash the middle finger or profanity-laced words come flying out of our mouth. The thing is, you can’t ever take words back. It takes 10 times the amount of time to clean up the damage by one single outburst. James wrote that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,” and so we should “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness” (James 1:20-21). A bad temper can destroy your spiritual growth because you’re always doing damage control by trying to apologize time and again, and it really does destroy your Christian testimony and kill your spiritual growth.
Failing to Assemble Yourselves in Worship
I knew a couple that had problems coming to church. Their attendance was very sporadic. They would be gone about two out of every five Sundays, and then it got to be three out of every four. Over time they stopped coming to church altogether. The man started drinking and became hooked on pornography. His wife was on the verge of leaving him, and that was when he contacted me for some counseling. What he and his wife were doing was “forsaking the assembling of [themselves] together, as is the manner of some” (Heb 10:25), and they missed the encouragement of one another in the church (Heb 10:26). Not being within the Body of Christ, they missed out on worshiping God and the joy that brings. They missed out on the fellowship of the saints, and they missed out on being fed the Word of God on a regular basis. They were literally starving to death from a lack of the Bread of Life. This really stunted their spiritual growth, and it about caused them to divorce.
Absence of Prayer and Bible Reading
One of my old seminary professors wisely said that prayer is the pulse of the believer’s spiritual temperature. If there’s a slowing or decreasing pulse in prayer, then there is spiritual decay, and the fellowship between them and God is affected. Add to that a lack of regular Bible reading and you have a recipe for killing your spiritual growth. I have counseled so many people who are struggling with their faith. They begin to doubt their salvation, and then they stop reading the Bible altogether. It is a self-replicating cycle. They pray less; they read less. The less they pray and read, the more they get into the habit of doing neither. Reading the Bible will lessen your doubts. Not reading the Bible will increase your doubts. The exact same thing goes for prayer.
If you are a church member, the janitor, or the pastor, it really doesn’t matter; if you or I have no integrity, we are grieving the Spirit and quenching His work in us, and it will kill your spiritual growth. Let’s say some Christian is hedging on his taxes (a fancy word for cheating). Would you want them to be the church treasurer? What does this person do with Romans 13:7 where it commands believers to “to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed?” A lack of integrity will kill your spiritual growth, because you cannot read the Bible long before you are convicted by your lack of honesty, and that plagues you when you read the Bible (as it should), so you stop altogether and don’t even read it anymore, or at least very much. A lack of integrity doesn’t only kill your spiritual growth, it robs you of the joy of your salvation.
The Apostle John writes, “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1st John 3:17)? That’s a very good question, isn’t it? I relate an experience recently where a pastor I know very well said he had a man who had been financially supporting the church’s missions, the church itself, and the pastor, and before he left, he said, “You know, I have given you about $1,500 in help and thought you should…,” I don’t want to tell you what he said, but the pastor got the message. He had been keeping track, apparently. His financial support made him feel he had more say in the way things are in the church, so even though he was generous, he did it for selfish reasons; for personal gain, like having more control over the church. Others give little of their time, talents, and treasures, but when they are in need, they ask, “Where is God? Where are my friends?” I would say, “Where were you (and I) when your neighbor needed your help and you didn’t help him?” I plead guilty too, but today, I’m a little more radical in my giving, because God is a generous God, and I think we should all be more generous too.
Take your spiritual temperature once in a while and ask yourself: Is my temper ruling me, or am I ruling my temper? Am I failing to assemble and worship with the saints? Then I may be failing in other areas, too. Is my prayer life and Bible reading declining? If so, my spiritual growth is, too. Those are three bad habits that will kill your spiritual growth for sure.