I’d been away for about a week, and wasn't surprised to see signs of neglect back at the ranch. No one was concerned that the kitchen sink was looking grungy and so unceremoniously bleached it. No one thought about what happens after the dog food bin for two large German Shepherds is emptied of it’s last grainy morsel. No one checked to see if there was a back up carton of half-and-half as they stirred cream into their morning coffee. These are all my responsibilities, and no one else gives them a thought.
There are three spiritual conditions for a believer: falling away, being passively secure, and actively growing. Our goal is the third.
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
Here are 6 signs that we are in danger of slipping further away from our loving Lord. Examine your heart and take heed if any of these ring true in your life at this time. The Holy Spirit may be encouraging you to make a heart adjustment to draw you closer to Him!
6 Classic Warning Signs of Personal Spiritual Neglect
In Matthew 4, Jesus had just come out of the desert and was hungry. Verse 3 says, “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Instead, verse 4 says, “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” Even after 40 days of fasting, Jesus asserts that physical, life-saving food is not enough. God’s Word is essential to life, spiritual life. He is telling us that we need to care for ourselves spiritually by feeding ourselves with God’s Word.
We can forget how fortifying Scripture can be, just as we don’t realize how thirsty we are until we take a gulp of cool water on a hot day.
The remedy here is astonishingly simple. We can tell God how sorry we are to have neglected His precious Word. This is what repentance is: saying you are sorry and changing your direction. Then we can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as we open Scripture and begin to read. Then we can decide to move ahead and keep our Bibles actively opened and read as we start to see all that God begins to do.
2. Worship music has begun to sound unappealing or trite. If worship is becoming dull or difficult, it can be because we need to examine our hearts. What is keeping us from adoring God? In the following passage, Habakkuk is in pretty bad shape, but he still clearly sees God greatness and finds joy in worshipping Him;
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When worship becomes a chore, we need to ask God to show us what has come between Him and us.
Press through, if you must. God is there and wants us to take initiative to draw near to Him. James 4:8 explains this when he says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
3. You haven’t had a conversation in ages about what God is saying to you or teaching you. One of the best parts of fellowship is sharing what God is doing with one another. It encourages and ministers to share testimonies of His active involvement and concern in each our lives.
When we’ve lost the ability to recognize God’s hand in the good and the hard in our lives, it’s time to intentionally reconnect the dots.
4. You’re struggling with believing that God hears and answers your prayers. David couldn’t stand not communicating with God. In Psalm 63:1, he cries out,
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.”
We may think that He isn’t speaking to us, but sometimes we don’t recognize when He is speaking to us.
“‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord”
5. Most of your Christian friends irritate and annoy you because you’ve lost your grace toward them. People living in any community have to learn to accept and bear with one another. Colossians 3:13 acknowledges this; “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This verse gives us the remedy for dealing with people’s imperfections: forgive.
Many relationships break down and trouble begins when someone stops bearing with and forgiving someone else. Some situations improve in amazing ways when we humble ourselves and forgive. Other times, the issue may be bigger.
Many relationships break down and trouble begins when someone stops bearing with and forgiving someone else.
When we continue to invite the Lord into our relationships, they become nurturing and edifying. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you that isolating yourself is a solution to interpersonal issues. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!”
6. Going to church is a chore. If you’ve reached the point where there’s nothing to draw you to church, then you need to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Don’t just slip away! Some of us may be struggling in one area, but that one struggle is severe enough to keep us away from church, altogether. Scripture, worship, testimony, prayer and fellowship are all parts of church life and should be rich blessings in your life. Don’t forsake them all if one is hard at this time.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Even the early church, which was under severe persecution and needed to stick together, needed to be admonished to go to church!
When we stay away from church, we miss out. Personal worship is vital, but corporate worship creates an atmosphere where God’s presence can be heavy and penetrating to our souls. In such a place, miracles can happen. Corporate worship is powerful. Even if we take a season and slide into the pew of a larger church where we can be more incognito, walking into a room with the express intent of publicly worshipping God is important.
When we stay away from church, we miss out.
2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” The Christian’s spiritual condition should be one of renewal and growth. We should be thriving.
When you submit to God and ask Him to speak to you and heal the hurts that make you want to stay away from fellowship, things will change in your heart. Trust Him to help you through the process of healing so that you can take your place in His body. You aren’t the only one missing out on what God has for you. Those you no longer see and fellowship with will miss out, too, on what you aren’t bringing to the body of Christ.
Just as you visit the dentist regularly and see the doctor to stay well, be alert and notice your spiritual condition. When you have begun to forgo the things that set us apart as Christians, take note! Always choose more of God and all that He gives us! As 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “we do not lose heart.” Keep in God’s presence, and stay part of His body on earth, and you will thrive!