The Five Pitfalls: Avoiding Detrimental Habits in Your Spiritual Journey

The Christian journey is much like traversing a winding path, with both moments of tranquility and turbulence. Along the way, there are certain detrimental habits that can become stumbling blocks in our spiritual growth. These five habits, if not addressed, can derail our journey and impede our faith.

1. The Fury of the Flesh

We’ve all experienced moments when our tempers flare. Perhaps someone cut in line, or a careless driver swerved in front of us. In these moments, it’s easy to react impulsively, letting our anger dictate our responses. Remember this: anger, more often than not, stems from a sense of pride, and unleashing it does more harm than good. The aftermath of an angry outburst usually involves mending bridges and soothing hurt feelings, often taking ten times longer than the outburst itself. As James 1:20-21 cautions us, human anger does not align with God’s righteousness. Consistent surrender to temper can damage your spiritual growth and harm your Christian testimony.

2. The Peril of Isolation

There’s a couple I knew whose sporadic attendance at church dwindled over time until they stopped coming altogether. The consequences were profound: their spiritual nourishment declined, and they lost the joy of worship, the fellowship of the saints, and consistent exposure to the Word of God. Their spiritual starvation nearly led to the breakdown of their marriage. When we neglect to assemble together for worship (Hebrews 10:25), we risk losing the vital encouragement and joy that comes from belonging to the Body of Christ.

3. The Danger of Spiritual Starvation

A wise seminary professor once declared that prayer is the pulse of our spiritual health. A decline in prayer signifies spiritual decay and a weakening of our connection with God. This, coupled with a lack of regular Bible reading, is a surefire way to inhibit spiritual growth. An increasing number of people I counsel reveal a spiral into doubt and a cessation of Bible reading. The less they pray and read, the more they fall into a cycle of spiritual disconnection. Regular Bible reading diminishes doubt while neglecting it fosters skepticism. The same applies to prayer.

4. The Hazard of Dishonesty

Whether you’re a church member, a pastor, or a janitor, a lack of integrity can thwart the Spirit’s work within us, ultimately stunting spiritual growth. Imagine a fellow Christian bending the truth on their taxes. This dishonesty contradicts Romans 13:7, which instructs us to give what is owed: taxes, revenue, respect, and honor. Dishonesty breeds guilt, which can lead to a disconnection from the Word of God.

5. The Risk of Self-Centeredness

How can God’s love reside in someone who, though blessed with worldly goods, ignores the needs of their brethren (1 John 3:17)? Consider a person who generously donates to the church yet does so for selfish gains, such as exerting control over the congregation. Even generous deeds can be tainted by selfish motives. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who give little but are quick to question God and their friends when they face difficulties. Both attitudes reflect a lack of true generosity, a virtue that reflects the nature of our benevolent God.

In conclusion, it’s beneficial to occasionally pause and check our spiritual health: Are we controlling our temper or is it controlling us? Are we consistently engaging in communal worship? How vibrant are our prayer life and Bible reading? Recognizing and addressing these potential pitfalls can guide us toward a flourishing spiritual life, keeping us on the right path in our Christian journey.