Here are the ten questions that Donald Whitney poses in his book Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. Like I said in my review the simplicity, directness and depth of these questions truly is remarkable. I would encourage you to take some time and look at each one. Take the next ten days and see what God reveals to you.
I have provided the first five questions here, along with some of my reflections on them. We will look at the other five in another post.
1. Do you thirst for God?
This one is very interesting. The focus is not on having a relationship with God, but on and in God himself. Is God the most important part of my life? While I want to answer yes to this question. I really had to look at my life and see if there were areas that did not conform to this answer. There were, and still are places where I do not thirst for God. Here are few samples of what how Whitney defines what thirsting after God means.
“Just because a man longs for something that can be found in God alone doesn’t mean he’s looking for God.” (Kindle Location, 96)
“Many who claim they are questing for God are not thirsting for God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture, but only for God as they want Him to be, or for a god who will give them what they want.” (Kindle Location, 97)
2. Are you governed increasingly by God’s Word?
I think of all the questions this one was the “easiest” to answer. I know that my life has been growing in this area like never before. Even still, I have to say that I am not where I need to be in this area of my life. There are still times when I am careless with God’s word. Where I can play it “fast and loose” with what God would say or have me do. When you know enough of what the Bible says to bend it, you have to be very careful.
“The person who can content himself with few or routine contacts with Scripture may be manifesting something far worse than spiritual decline.” (Kindle Location, 252)
This statement is so true. The longer you spend in the word the more you will find that what you believe changes. It changes not because it was a wrong belief, but because you actually begin to believe it and that changes you!
“Speaking in a practical way, you know that God’s Word is growing in its influence over you when you can point to increasing numbers of beliefs and actions that have been changed because of the potency of specific texts of Scripture.” (Kindle Location, 282)
3. Are you more loving?
I pray that I am. If I answer this question in relation to how I feel for others, I would say that my sensitivity to the needs and circumstances of others has grown and increased. But, when I consider that love is an action, I am left knowing that I fall far short of what God desires to see in me. It is easy to love from a distance. I don’t get close enough sometimes. Part of the reason is because I just don’t know what to do sometimes. I am hoping that this changes as I continue to grow.
These two statement stood out to me and were really helpful in helping me to think about and evaluate where my growth in Christ-like love is.
“When love grows colder, our sin increasingly manifests itself and we look more unlike Jesus.” (Kindle Location, 351)
This next statement cut sharply against the tendency among some in the church to think that doing something nice or kind some how amounts to meeting God’s expectations of us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“Many people, therefore, are congratulating themselves for what amounts to merely being human, and they conclude amiss that this innate love testifies of spiritual health. Natural affection, however, is just one of several pretenders to the kind of love only those indwelt by the Holy Spirit can express.” (Kindle Location, 373)
4. Are you more sensitive to God’s presence?
This is one of those things that is almost impossible to quantify, and yet Whitney provided a clear and powerful description of what we should be looking for. There were a three ideas that were very helpful. Here is the first
“…it is through His Word that our experience with God, including our perception of His presence, is mediated.” (Kindle Location, 515)
We cannot encounter God directly, and we really shouldn’t. Moses taught us this when he asked to see God’s glory (Exodus 33:18). And God responds by telling Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (33:20).
The second statement that Whitney makes is connected to the one above, when he says,
When we seek the presence of God mediated–directly or indirectly–through Scripture, we are not imagining God as we would like Him to be. The basis of our experience with God is God-revealed truth, not our individual, idiosyncratic opinions about God. (Kindle Location, 528)
And isn’t this exactly what we want? To make sure that we are not worshiping or seeking a God of our own creation we have allow the Word of God to guide and determine our understanding of Him. Which leads to the third statement that was probably the one that got me the most in this section.
Without a mediated sense of God’s presence, how can I know I have indeed encountered the God of the Bible? How can I be sure that I haven’t delved into the recesses of a mysterious, imaginative mind and simply manufactured an experience? (Kindle Location, 546)
5. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
Possible the most difficult aspect of this question is the “and” between spiritual and temporal. As I read I was confronted with the reality that theses two realities of a person’s life cannot be separated. If we are seeking to help someone in their spiritual journey, then we must also address their physical needs. If we just do one or the other we are dismissing the reality that we are physical creatures AND we are spiritual beings. We are both at the same time. There can be no dividing of the two. Even James said this when he reminded us that sending someone off without tending to what they need is not what God had in mind (James 2:14ff).
Evangelism that ignores hollow-eyed hunger or other crying needs of the ones being evangelized is a physical contradiction to the spiritual message.” (Kindle Location, 643)
I literally cringed when I read this statement. It is too often the truth. I pray that it changes.
There is no Christlikeness in throwing money at a physical need or in dutifully reading a few Bible verses to an unbeliever and apathetically sending him on his way to hell.” (Kindle Location, 671)
In Part 2 we will look at the following questions.
6. Do you delight in the Bride of Christ?
7. Are the spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
8. Do you still grieve over sin?
9. Are you a quicker forgiver?
10. Do you yearn for heaven and to be with Jesus?