The Importance of Spiritual Growth
It seems many young people are choosing not only to intentionally delay marriage; not only to intentionally delay adulthood, but to intentionally delay spiritual growth. The ill-conceived assumption is that God can wait until after I’ve had my fun, and am ready to grow up and settle down.
Considering the state of matrimony today, the inclination to delay marriage, though perhaps misguided, has a rational appeal. As for delaying adulthood, who wouldn’t want to enjoy the privileges of a grownup without the commensurate responsibilities, if allowed to do so? And looky there! Our “modern” Western culture not only allows, but encourages just that.
However, delaying spiritual growth isn’t merely selfish (like postponing adulthood). And there’s nothing self-preserving about it (like the fear-driven avoidance of relational commitment).
Delaying spiritual growth is simply self-destructive.
Fact is, God can wait, and does. He waits for prodigal sons (and daughters and fathers and mothers) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (366 days in leap years). He not only leaves the allegorical light on, He stands on the figurative front porch scanning the metaphorical horizon, waiting.
And when any prodigal is ready to repent and submit to His lordship, He runs – not walks – runs to them, brings them home, buys them jewelry and throws a rack of ribs on the barbie. That’s why the Bible calls our heavenly Father long-suffering. You can’t exhaust His mercy and He’s never in any hurry. (You don’t actually have to be in a hurry if you’re sovereign.)
The question is: Can you wait to seek God?
Can you wait until you’re so hungry you’re slobbering over pig slop?
Can you wait until you’re so exhausted from climbing every mountain of materialism you can barely crawl?
Can you wait until you’re devotion is so divided you don’t know who you are anymore?
Can you wait until your mind is utterly depleted from trying to figure everything out on your own?
Can you wait until an endless line of empty relationships leaves you so lost and alone you’re afraid to ever open up to anyone ever again; even the Maker, Sustainer and Lover of your soul?
And even if you could wait, do you really want to? (If you’re still not quite sure, check out the three lessons on trusting God in Part I of this Beyond Sex & Salvation study guide series.)
An Urgent Message for Toys-R-Us Kids
Marriages didn’t used to have a nearly 50% failure rate in our culture, but then our culture used to promote the ideal of maturity. That era has passed. Now our culture promotes the ideal of immaturity. We no longer want to grow up and be like our Mom or Dad (if we had one). We want to be Toys-R-Us kids. And now this morally vapid mentality has all but entirely infected our perspective on spiritual maturity.
The bottom line is this: if you’re determined to delay spiritual maturity, please determine to delay matrimony even longer.
Of course, I understand. You want a marriage partner because you can hear, see and touch them (even naked if you want). You can’t do any of that with God, so you’re driven to get your felt needs met for companionship (and sex), while it seems you can consider your higher need for spiritual connection later.
But please don’t make the most important earthly commitment of your life until after you’ve established a firm commitment to God. After all…
If you don’t feel ready to commit to the only perfect lover capable of loving you no matter what, how could you be ready to commit to a mere mortal that’s neither perfect to love nor perfectly loving?
Know that you disregard this admonition to your own injury.
I don’t mean to say that if you ignore this advice your marriage is destined to fail. (Most of the believing couples you know probably married as spiritual children.) I mean to say if you ignore this advice your marriage is destined to be far more difficult than necessary. You are choosing to learn essential life lessons the hard way.
And as long as I’m recommending your spiritual commitment come before marital commitment, perhaps I should point out the same should be true for your future spouse.
- How would you describe your current commitment to Bible study? What next step could you take to grow in this area?
- How would you describe your current involvement in Christian community? What next step could you take to grow in this area?
- How would you describe your prayer life? What next step could you take to grow in this area?
[Want more help in growing spiritually? This is an excerpt of the 2nd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three key life disciplines for relational success; habits best best forged BEFORE you fall in love. Even before you date! Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!