[Unknowingly, sometimes otherwise good Christian people find they are choked by things that hinder their spiritual growth. This article will share five important things that choke one’s relationship with God.]
These trees were both seedlings at the same time. One grew large. One did not.
Both trees received consistent water and fertilizer. Yet, the tree in the ground was free to grow unrestricted and the potted tree was contained; it lived, but was a spindly, anemic little seedling. It was choked by its container.
Psalm 1 says that successful people are the ones who are not entangled with negative, wicked, or limiting people, but are those who delight in God’s living, freeing Word. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit in the appropriate season. Their leaves never wither, and all they do prospers.
On TV yesterday, I watched as technicians rescued a sick seal that had fishing line caught around its neck. As the seal tried to grow the line had choked its growth and cut deeply around its neck. The seal should have been around 350 pounds, but was only 125 pounds, because the fishing line restricted its growth.
Spiritually speaking, many of us, for many and various reasons, stay in situations that restrict and hinder our spiritual growth. We are still alive; the situation has not killed us, but we are not growing either. Below are five things that hinder growth. Do any of these sound familiar?
A tendency toward negative thinking: Negative thoughts are void of faith in God who is the One who can do the impossible. This is a bad habit. Ask God for strategies to replace this habit with a positive, faith-filled habit. For example, I like to say to myself [a lot], “My God is bigger than this situation.”
Judgmental attitudes: This attitude limits spiritual growth because judgment is like a boomerang that comes back, so that we do the very things we judge in others (Rom 2:1). Because God is the only righteous judge, passing judgment on others usurps God’s authority. The continuing cycle prevents spiritual growth. Yet, the cycle stops with repentance.
The influence of negative or controlling people: These kind of people, if allowed to influence us, will keep us stuck in spiritual muck. This attitude is not from God who is peace, faith, hope, and love. You do not have to let them influence how you live and think. Get away if you can. Otherwise, ask God for strategies to deal with these ones.
Unhealthy submission to abusive authority: This severely limits growth! In effect we are placing that person/tradition/culture above God. We submit to things God would not have us submit to because of what others may think, tradition, and fear, etc. If this is your case, share your situation with someone you can trust (who can help) and is outside the situation. Begin to seek the Lord in earnest for how to get out of this kind of bondage.
Complacency or fear of change: God wants to draw close to us, but He will not go against our own will or fears. As soon as we make the tiniest move toward Him, He rushes in to help. We all want stability, and it can be hard to get past our own comfort to change. My first advice is to ask Jesus for help to overcome complacency and fear. You can also see my post on overcoming fear.
As we begin to grow up in our relationship with Christ, our roots need to have room to grow. We need to have the chokeholds broken from our necks. We need to be able to receive the living water and fresh food that nourishes our souls.
God has such wonderful plans for us! He has a hope and a future that is good! He is simply waiting for us to grow up into them. Those plans require us to be rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17). And our character has to be challenged with new freedoms, experiences, and trust (Eph 4:17).
Some people may be comfortable in their current bondages, but they may not be free to grow either. That little spindly seedling had grown as far it could grow in the little pot. That poor seal was stuck at 125 pounds when it should have been 350. These natural things were stuck in a rut! They were alive, but barely!
We watched as that poor sick seal was rescued and its bonds were broken. It was free and slid back into the ocean where it could eat, live, and grow unrestricted. My husband recently planted that little tree in rich fertile earth, so now it is growing free and showing signs of new life in its limbs.
The Spirit of the Lord brings Freedom! My prayer is that you will find freedom in those specific areas of your life that are restricting you. May God bless your journey with Him!
P.S. This list assumes one has taken care of all other blatant sins such as immorality, unforgiveness, etc. If you would like someone to talk to or pray with, please leave me an email, and I will respond. Your spiritual growth is important!
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