One benefit of spiritual growth is increased joy and increased health.
One of the best studies to demonstrate the relationship between joy and health was done many years go and involved the diaries of 180 nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Each nun, born before 1917, was asked to daily write down their thoughts in a journal. More than 50 years later, researchers studied their journals looking for relationships between joy expressed as positivity and life outcomes.
From the data emerged some interesting conclusions. The nuns who seemed the most joyful based on their writings lived longer, on average, by as much as 10 years than the less joyful nuns. By age 85, only 34% of the least happy quartile of nuns was still alive while 90% of the nuns in the happiest quartile were still alive. An amazing difference!
This reminds me of Galatians 5:22-23:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Spiritual growth produces increased fruits of the spirit. It is pretty clear that as you live with more of the fruits of the spirit in your life, the more joyful you will be.
Now there is no way to say with certainty that if you experience more joy you will live longer. But I will say with certainty that experiencing more joy will certainly make the years you live better.
But don’t miss this important fact about the Nuns: They were ALL nuns but experienced different levels of joy throughout their lives.
In the same way, all followers of Jesus do not experience the same level of joy. You have known miserable followers of Jesus and you have known joyful followers of Jesus. You probably know both kinds of followers of Jesus now.
What’s the difference between the most and least joyful followers of Jesus? Spiritual growth…the most joyful followers of Jesus are those experiencing regular and consistent spiritual growth.
So why should you seek to grow spiritually?
Not to live longer…but definitely to live better.