FIRST-PERSON: Spiritual growth is no accident
SOUTH LEBANON, Ohio (BP) -- I have never heard a Christian say, "I love living a stagnated Christian life." No one says, "What I really want to do is stay right where I am spiritually. I don't want to get any closer to God than I am right now."
While we never say such things with our words, we often say them with our actions. The poet, Robert Browning, said, "Why stay we on earth, except to grow?" 2 Peter ends with a simple command to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
We all want to keep growing in the Lord. Here are some thoughts that can help:
First, spiritual growth is never by accident.
Spiritual growth comes from God, but it always requires effort on our part. Growth is based on a decision we all are responsible to make. God holds us accountable for our own spiritual growth. Our real priorities show up in the routines of our lives and, if growth is a priority, there will be evidence of that priority in our daily and weekly schedules. I may say I want to learn the Bible, but if I do not set aside time to read the Bible regularly, I'm just fooling myself.
Second, spiritual growth comes to those who see themselves as lifelong learners.
That means that we need a plan for spiritual growth. Hope is not a strategy for maturity. We can hope we are closer to Jesus 12 months from now, but without a plan, it is doubtful.
Third, spiritual growth is a byproduct of good habits.
We must be willing to pay the price for spiritual growth in the daily grind of life. If you see someone who is consistently demonstrating Christian character, it is because they have developed certain habits. If you know someone who really knows their Bible, it is because they have disciplined themselves to regularly read, study and memorize God's Word. We all have habits. The real question is, are they good habits that lead to maturity?
With that in mind, here are a few habits we all can develop:
Habit #1. Prayer/time in the Word
Spending time daily in the Word and in prayer likely is the most important discipline in the Christian life. God can challenge us and grow us if we are willing to spend time with Him each day in this way. He can speak things into our lives that no preacher ever could. Intimacy requires times of isolation -- it is true in marriage and parenting and it is true in our relationship with God. When Jesus wanted to speak to His Father, He found a place of quiet solitude to spend time with Him as recorded in Mark 1:35. If Jesus needed such a time, we do even more.
Habit #2: Serve
Another important habit for a growing Christian is to worship and serve with other believers. We all know the command of Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake our assembly together with the people of God. We can worship alone, but God chooses to bless the corporate worship of His people in special ways. God has designed us to do life together with other believers. In addition, we are given several "one another" commands in the Bible which are done best in the context of small groups working together in a local church setting.
Habit #3: Witness
A third habit to develop is sharing your faith. Not only does this give the opportunity for people to be saved, it gives you the opportunity to grow in the Lord. The longer we are saved, the easier it is to surround ourselves with saved people. That means we have to be more deliberate about staying in contact with lost people. If we don't plan to witness, we may never get around to it.
Spiritual growth, like any kind of growth, is not automatic. It requires discipline and reliance on Christ. He is the only one to have lived the Christian life without fault, and it is Christ in us who will enable us to mature in our faith as we teach others to mature in their faith.