Your Spiritual Growth
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To be years older and not be nearer to God is like walking in a circle; it’s motion without progress. You can search your heart and ask God to show you how much progress you have made, how much you have grown in your Christian life.
Do you remember the vision that God gave you once of the life that He wanted you to live—the great expectations of victory, the great stirrings in your soul, and great determinations to live close to Him?
I wonder if you can say with Paul, “I’ve not been disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Or have you become satisfied with a low level of Christian living, a mediocre life, common and defeated?
I have some friends who are radiant and triumphant in their victorious Christian life. I also know some who are professing Christians who are frustrated. They’re like the old lady who said, “I’m just a poor worm!” Well, I’d hate to call myself “just a poor worm” in the Christian life. God says that we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).
There’s no such thing as standing still in the Christian life. You’re either going forward or you’re going backwards. But if you’d be honest at this time, would you have to say, “I’m living a dwarfed, defeated, disappointed Christian life”?
What would you say if spiritually you were to go on a tour of inspection of your heart, if God would put His X-ray on your soul? In the searching diagnosis, would you find out that you’re growing? There are wonderful expressions in God’s Word about the abundant life. Are you reaching victoriously towards that?
You are really three persons: who you think you are, who others think you are, and who God knows you to be. There’s one thing we know: we have to grow, don’t we? God’s Word says in Revelation 11:1: “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod, and the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and them that worship therein.’” He said to measure those who worship.
Our measuring rod is God’s Word. Second Corinthians 10:12 says, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: for they measure themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” We don’t measure our growth by how others are growing; we measure by the Word of God. Psalm 139 says, “Search me, O God, and try my thoughts, and see if there be any evil way in me” (Psalm 139:23–24).
I’m thankful for anything that will make me take a deep look at myself. We’re living in such a pressured age, there’s no time for meditating or thinking. But we need to stop and take a look at ourselves and not gloss things over, not be deceived, not have a light view of our spiritual state. God’s Word says, “Let no man think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but let him think soberly” (Romans 12:3).
You know how a baby grows? A baby grows by means of air, food, water and love, and that’s the way a Christian grows. Air is prayer, and food is God’s Word, and water is the thirst that’s in your soul, and then there’s the everlasting love and power of God that’s in your heart. You can tell if you’re growing by whether you’re growing in love.
You can’t make yourself grow spiritually. It doesn’t come by self-effort. It comes by living close to Jesus, living in His Word, soaking up His love, being filled with His Spirit, and engaging in heart-to-heart communication with Him.
Spiritual growth comes from living in Him and His Word and in sweet personal union with Him. It isn’t by straining or self-effort. It’s not by self-dependence. It’s putting yourself utterly in His hands. The center of Christianity is Jesus Himself—a living, loving personality. It’s fellowship with Him that will bring you victory and bring about the growth that you desire in your Christian life.—Virginia Brandt Berg
Through a study of how Jesus helped people grow spiritually, Rick Warren developed these eight laws for spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth is intentional. Spiritual growth is not accidental. You must intend to grow; you must make a choice to grow. …
Spiritual growth is incremental. We know it’s true in physical growth—why not in spiritual? We know that children grow through developmental stages: First they learn to breathe, then they learn to eat. Then they learn to walk. Then they learn to talk. No child has ever taken those steps out of order. They are developmental steps.
The same is true in your spiritual life. The order … is all about helping people grow closer and closer to Christ: knowing Christ, then loving Christ, then growing in Christ, then serving Christ, then sharing Christ. Those are the systematic steps to spiritual growth.
Spiritual growth is personal. You cannot mass-produce disciples, because everybody is different. There is no one-size-fits-all for spiritual growth. To be a disciple is to be a learner—that’s the literal meaning of the word “disciple.” Because we are all different, we all learn differently. For instance, some learn best by listening, others by reading, some by discussing, and others by doing a project. …
Spiritual growth is practical. God gives us practical ways to participate in the growth that he is building. One of the goals of the church is to help people grow by developing good spiritual habits. ...
For instance, we encourage the habit of spending time with God every day. Prayer is also a spiritual habit. Bible study is a spiritual habit. Tithing and attending a small group are spiritual habits. In the end, we will become whatever we habitually do. To try to be a disciple of Jesus without developing disciple habits is simply impossible.
Spiritual growth is relational. We only grow in community with others. ... The Bible says in Hebrews 10:24–25, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.”
Spiritual growth is multi-dimensional. We have learned it takes all five purposes to grow. We are to grow warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship, broader through ministry, and larger through mission. …
Spiritual growth is seasonal. Nobody grows at a constant pace all the time. ... Some of you are going through a winter: “I just don’t feel like I’m growing much right now, even though I’m doing the right things to grow.” That’s okay. It’s part of life. In fact, there are some things that happen in winter that don’t happen in spring and summer. You deepen your roots in fall and winter for the next spring when you will have the next stage of growth and fruit.
Spiritual growth is incarnational. The final truth is that growth is not about what you can accomplish; rather, it’s about the person of Jesus Christ living inside you. Galatians 2:20 says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The goal of the Christian life is to live like Jesus. But it’s not you trying to be like Jesus; it’s trusting Jesus to live inside of you. The secret of the Christian life is not imitation but incarnation—letting Christ live through you. Nobody can live like Jesus better than Jesus!—Tom Holladay1
God watched His Son as He grew from a baby in a manger to a man on a mission. And when Jesus was baptized, He came down like a dove to say, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
Just as God watched Jesus grow, He’s watching you too. He’s watching you grow in wisdom as you learn from His Word. He’s watching you grow stronger as you trust Him to strengthen you. As you grow, your proud Papa, your Abba, says, “You are my child whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”—Tama Fortner
Published on Anchor April 2023. Read by Jerry Paladino.