What do spiritually healthy people do? What are behaviors that spiritually healthy people would avoid? There have been a number of articles floating around about what emotionally or mentally strong people do not do.
Many of the areas these articles mention intersect with spiritually healthy behaviors. I put together my own list utilizing some of their categories and offering a more biblical approach. Spiritually healthy people have learned to trust God as their source of strength. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that honor God and their neighbor.
Spiritually healthy people acknowledge their weakness and recognize that their strength comes though Christ. They know that God is working through the brokenness in their lives for his glory. They acknowledge their failures and trust God for his strength, knowing that through him all things are possible.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Spiritually healthy people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. They trust in God to exact justice in his time. They choose to delight in God and look for the blessings they see in the midst of challenges.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 42:11).
Spiritually healthy people recognize that blaming is unproductive and not their job. They trust that God is qualified to act as judge, so they don’t have to assume that role. They take responsibility for their contribution to a situation. They are willing to take correction to lead a more Godly life.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
Spiritually healthy people don’t expect things to come to them or others to serve them. They recognize that all of life is a gift and choose to live in gratitude. They bask richly in the love of God’s salvation without expecting that all things will go their way.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).
Spiritually healthy people don’t expect immediate results because they know all too well that our timing and God’s timing are not the same. As much as we would like to have God consult our schedule, we know that God has a higher plan and will work things out for our good in time.
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:25).
You won’t hear a spiritually strong person complaining about the minutia of life. Instead, they focus God who controls all of life. They recognize worry as unhealthy and unproductive. They choose to take on the attitude of Christ and trust God to handle the details.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).
Spiritually strong people recognize that they live to please God, not people. They’re not in the business of meeting others’ expectations. They’re not afraid to say no to people or speak up when needed. They strive to love one another, and they can handle other people being upset because they recognize that they are ultimately accountable to God, not others.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24).
Spiritually strong people do not harbor envy in their hearts. Instead, they understand that things may not always seem fair. Spiritually healthy people recognize that all of life is a gift from God and choose to live in gratitude.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).
Spiritually strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past failings and have sought to learn from them. They grieve loss, but they don’t constantly relive the pain of the past. Instead, they live in present and look to the future, knowing that it is in God’s hands.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past (Isaiah 43:18).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2a).
Spiritually healthy people don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but, trusting in God, they are willing to step out in faith and try new things. They spend time seeking Godly counsel and dwelling in God’s word. They trust God to work out his plan and purpose, even when the path seems unclear.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs15:22).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Spiritually healthy people are not seeking recognition. They understand that Christ is central and want his name to honored above all. They recognize that their value does not come from the praise of human lips. They find their sense of identity in scripture as an image bearer of God. They know that whatever good they accomplish comes from Christ’s love and power flowing through their lives.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4).
Spiritually strong people follow Jesus who withdrew to solitary places. They aren’t dependent on others for their sense of well being as they find their identity in Christ. They are content by themselves and they don’t fear silence, knowing that you are never truly alone as God is always present.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:9).
Spiritually strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity for growth and improvement. They are willing to persevere even when things are difficult knowing that God is working all things for our good.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).
Spiritually Healthy people acknowledge their responsibility to care for one another. They recognize that they are called to love their neighbor as themselves. All we have is a gift, a gift to be shared with others. They willingly accept God’s calling to enact justice and mercy in this world.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:17-18).
Spiritually healthy people recognize that God is in control so they do not need to fear. Their sense of security does not come from their circumstances, but from trusting the God of the universe to walk with them through whatever they face. They trust that God is keeping promises and working all things for their good.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging (Psalm 46:1-3).
Spiritually healthy people don’t let anger and bitterness rule in their lives. They are able to forgive and trust God to work out justice. They understand that anger and a need for vindication locks them in a destructive cycle that is broken only when they forgive. Forgiveness sets them free from bitterness and allows them to love their brother.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
For Christians, love is the very nature of God. As we grow to be more like God, we learn to share love generously. It is easy to love those who are like us, but Christ challenges us to love even those who behave like enemies. Love can sometimes leave us hurting, and we may need good boundaries to protect from violence, but God wants us to take the risks and love boldly.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:10-12).
These 17 categories are not an exhaustive list, but they are areas where we sometimes stumble when we look to others or our circumstances instead of keeping our eyes focused on God. For a more concise list check out Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 for God’s top ten list! Spiritual health comes from spending time with God so we look at life through eyes of faith.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra