I. Biblical view to spirituality

The word "spiritual" occurs in the Scripture 10 times, and "spirituality," four times. In no case they are explicitly defined.

A. Spiritual

Applied to:

gifts1 Cor. 12:1
lawRom 7:14
thingsRom 15:27
Christians1 Cor. 3:1
Resurrected body1 Cor. 15:44-46
evil forcesEph. 6:12

Designating, Christians:

ideal state1 Cor. 3:1
discernment1 Cor. 2:13-15
dutyGal. 6:1
manner of lifeCol. 3:16

B. Spirituality

source ofGal. 5:22-26
expression of1 Cor. 13:1-13
growth in2 Peter 1:4-11
enemies of1 John 2:15-17

II. Bible dictionary

Many Bible dictionaries do not even include the word "spiritual" or "spirituality." The Oxford companion to the Bible (1993) indirectly explained "spiritual" by illustrating "spirit and flesh" :

"Spirit" translates words that in both Hebrew and Greek mean "wind" (Genesis 6:19) and "breath" (Gen. 6:17; Ezek 37:5), as well as vital essence. Biblical writers do not normally combine the two terms (spirit and flesh) to designate the totality of human nature. The body/soul dichotomy that so fascinated Greek philosophy is not generally presupposed, even when the two terms occur in close proximity. (p.231)

III. Webster Definition

The Webster Dictionary does not help much neither. Some definitions seem to "talk in a circle."

A. Spiritual

  • Verb
    • of breathing, of wind, relating to, or consisting of spirit

    • of or relating to sacred matters {~ songs}

    • ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal

    • spiritually akin or related {~ home ~ heir}

    • of ore relating to ghosts or similar supernatural beings

    • spiritualistic

  • Noun : Things of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, or religious nature

B. Spirituality

  • Something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or to a cleric as such

  • Clergy

  • Sensitivity or attachment to religious values

  • The quality or state of being spiritual

IV. So, what is spiritual anyway?

Henri Nouwen (1986)'s definition of spirituality is one of the best. He defines a spiritual life is a "life of heart" --a life blessed with external freedom that is unaffected by the physical state.

IV. What is not spiritual?

Nouven (1986) also asserts that spirituality is not opposed to physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of our lives. So-called "Unspiritual" is referred to superficial and marginal matters that exist outside the core of our lives. "Unspiritual" is not neccessarily negative.

  • A spiritual life is NOT separated from so-called secular life.
  • Spirituality is NOT in contrast to knowledge
  • A spiritual life is NOT inconsistent in heart and acting.

A. Self-retrospection and self-restraints

Self-control is one of the nine spiritual fruit. Pastor C. K. Huynh also defines spiritual as being able to overcome one's weakness. In the Book of James it emphasizes self-control of tongue.

  • Do we control our tongues well enough to avoid offending others?
  • What is the motive of speaking offensive words? To build up others? To help them unveil their weakness?
  • What are the long term effects to ourselves and others resulting from offensive words?

B. Courage

The Bible emphasizes bearing the cross to follow Jesus. German theologian D. Bonhoffer, in his well-known book The cost of discipleship, proclaimed that Jesus calls us to die for Him. Another German theologian, Paul Tillich, regards spirituality as courage.

When we takes courses, are we intended to accept intellectual challenges or simply aim at earning easy credits?

C. Faith, hope and love

Spirituality can be defined as an integration of faith, hope and love. Love is incorporated with the faith to uncertain and hope for unseen.

Today there are many fragile and broken relationships. Many people do not totally commit to a relationship until they are absolutely positive that they have met the right person. Can you love someone enough to put your faith and hope on him/her even if a bright future is not one hundred percent guaranteed?

D. Obedience

Thomas Merton , a spiritual Catholic Priest, emphasizes denying false self and developing true self i.e. God gives every one a vocation. A spiritual person is the one who knows and obey what God wants him/her to be by giving up his/her desires.

Do you believe that God has assigned you a specific mission? Do you have a strong desire to find out what He wants you to be?

Copyright ©



Simplified Navigation

Table of Contents

Search Engine