Are you a spiritual invalid, or do you know someone who is? Lack of boundaries contributes to this problem: we can become confused about where our needs and values end and those of others begin. How can we tell if someone we are interacting with is a spiritual invalid? As it is written:
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
For those who are interested, the following books by the Christian author Henry Cloud are wonderful and empowering, helping people to value themselves and others by the appropriate use of boundaries:
1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (see http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454)
2. Safe People: How to Find Relationships That are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t (see http://www.amazon.com/Safe-People-Relationships-Avoid-Those/dp/0310210844/ref=pd_sim_b_3)
The following article casts much needed light on the phenomenon of spiritual invalids. Thank you to Rayola Kelley for the helpful insights.
A couple of months ago, I was thinking how a healthy person could become an invalid. I have met a few individuals who have chosen this type of physical route. As I considered the wasted life of such a person, I thought about Christians who end up becoming spiritual invalids in the kingdom of God.
The first point of consideration is why one would choose to become an invalid. Does it have to do with control and manipulation? Perhaps it is about getting attention or feeling special. Whatever the reason for wasting one’s life, Scriptures speak of a life totally contrary to invalidism. Spiritual invalidism involves one becoming inactive in his or her life before God. In a sense, it is like waiting for God to pour out all of the deserved benefits. This concept of a free ride without paying the price makes the Christian life self-serving and unrealistic.
The Word talks about running the race, maintaining the faith, fighting the battle, and finishing the course. It points out exercising unto godliness (1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). As individuals study the Scriptures, they have to realize that the Christian life is anything but inactive. Spiritual inaction is nothing more than unbelief and disobedience in action which causes spiritual atrophy or complacency towards the things of God.
The Word clearly speaks of victory that must be won. Overcoming enemies is not an option, but a must if one is to enjoy the fruits of the kingdom of God (1 John 5:4-5; Revelation 2-3). God has provided the tools to overcome. However, in spite of God’s incredible Word and powerful tools, some Christians still insist on becoming spiritual invalids. Such individuals refuse to partake of the Word for themselves as they depend on others to spoon-feed them. Faith becomes an intellectual concept or method that blinds them to personal unbelief and disobedience. They use prayer for self-serving reasons, often resulting in skepticism because God appears to remain silent. They either ignore the Holy Spirit or they allow a counterfeit spirit to replace Him as a means to control their world. They either mock spirituality or use it as a door to operate on a level of spiritual elitism and delusion. The results are always the same. They refuse to take personal responsibility for the status of their spiritual life. These spiritual invalids come across as the helpless victim, while judging God and others for the failure in their personal lives.
What creates spiritual invalids? An invalid in the spiritual realm points to weakness due to the absence of a proper foundation. After considering those who resort to this physical state without reason, I believe it goes deeper than just an absence of a foundation. Spiritual invalidism is absence of character. Any time you deal with the character of a person, you will have to confront his or her disposition. Therefore, a spiritual invalid has something amiss in his or her disposition. It is a weakness that has not been honestly confronted through repentance or effectively dealt with by the Word of God and obedience to it.
The following is my observation as to the ingredients that will cause a physical or spiritual invalid in disposition. The two main motivations behind this type of condition are fear or resignation. Both fear and resignation are self-centered. The more a person gives in to these two culprits, the more life becomes overwhelming. Eventually, these two stifling factors cause a person to retreat from reality, declaring that life as unfair, too frightening or hopeless in its present state. Therefore, the person resigns self to a world of depression, fantasy or a small controllable world no bigger than a tomb.
Life is unfair to everyone, but it is especially hard on man’s different forms of pride. Pride strives to be an exception rather than the rule. It sees itself as superior and deserving of honor. It wants to believe that its circumstances or burdens are far worse than they are. This will earn the individual the right to be treated according to personal opinions or preference. Pride always becomes offended when life does not exalt it. It becomes hopeless as life challenges its imperfections and faulty claims to reveal failure, rejection and incompetence causing it to lose control. In fact, life on earth is a test to see whether a person will choose life that only comes by way of God or the ways of pride that lead to death, the path of least resistance.
The foundation under the path of death is made up of lies; therefore, it allows for the compromises and excuses of pride. It feeds and clings to the concept that life is unfair. As the individual gives in to this arrogant claim, self-pity begins to consume the person’s disposition. This self-pity feeds various vain imaginations that operate without hindrance, always giving way to the rights of pride.
Rights cause a person to consider how he or she must be treated in his or her incapacitated condition. As the individual continues to give in to various excuses for his or her condition, rights begin to put demands on others. Personal irresponsibility and complacency brought on this condition, but now others are burdened with the responsibility to serve the person in this state, or they are deemed unchristian and uncaring as they fall into the trap of guilt. Those who do care are often taken advantage of as their kindness is never considered sacrificial, but a responsibility.
Another ingredient of spiritual invalidism is ingratitude. Self-pity also serves as a manifestation of ingratitude. Self-pity declares that the person is feeling sorry for self because he or she has not received the desired results. The person’s tears are not for personal sin, but because the insidious game has been uncovered. Now that the game has been exposed, all that is left is repentance. True repentance is an enemy of invalidism. Therefore, rebellion begins to act out to confuse the issues in order to get its way. Tears are part of the game as they often throw unsuspecting people into confusion about the insidious ingratitude that is behind much of it.
The final element to spiritual invalidism is laziness. Galatians 6:4-5 states: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” The Word tells believers to wake up and arise. However, those who glory in personal spiritual invalidism will find various excuses and justifications as to why they can’t get up and do what is right and necessary (Ephesians 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Peter 1:13). They will always see themselves as the victim, rather than the thief who abuses the gift of life and the kindness of others.
As you study the different ingredients in the disposition of a spiritual invalid, you can see where this type of individual simply gives in to the works and ways of the flesh. He or she will refuse to stir self up to pursue God’s perspective, Spirit and will in a matter. Eventually, this person will give in to lies and pride, rather than choose the ways of life and righteousness and walk these out by obedient faith.
Sadly, these people become leeches that end up robbing others of valuable time and resources. These people never see what a stench they become to God and those who see through the games. People will resist their pride, avoid their self-pity, and become disgusted at their excuses as to why they have become and remain an invalid in the kingdom of God. In the end, such people become a dead weight too great to bear.
My prayer is that if any reader fits this scenario that he or she will see the errors of his or her way. The ingredients that make up spiritual invalidism definitely fit in the hall of fame for the most accepted sins. However, these sins are unacceptable to God and will bring judgment in due time.
You may know someone who fits this description. If so, restrain from enabling him or her. This will put you in a bad light, but truly seek God’s will and perspective about such a person. As long as you enable a person who maintains the disposition of an invalid, he or she can remain so. Ask the Lord to give this person a love for the truth and a consuming desire to please God. Then challenge the person by not playing his or her games.