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Christian Spiritual Growth
Spiritual Growth - like Climbing a Mountain trail
What is Christian Spiritual Growth?
Maybe you are a new Christian or maybe you have been one for awhile, or you might even not be a Christian, no matter where you are at, you should be asking yourself, How can i grow spiritually? Now, before you get there, you might be wondering what spiritual growth even is. So we will start by asking, and answering that question.
Spiritual Growth Defined:
What is spiritual growth?
Spiritual growth for Christians is the active pursuit to follow and become more like Jesus Christ, who died to give us the opportunity of eternal life with Him in Heaven. Out of our love for God, and our desire to follow His commands, we should make our aim in life to become more Christ-like until the day we die, and are made perfect, through Christ's sacrifice, in Heaven.
Check out these verses from the Bible that sheds some light on what spiritual growth is, and how you can work on it.
2 Peter 1:3-8 (NIV)
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So spiritual growth is accomplished through increasing one's knowledge and understanding of Jesus and the Bible and it helps us avoid sin and be more ‘productive’ Christians.
So in the same way that practicing soccer makes you better at soccer, working on spiritual growth will make you ‘better’ at being a Christian. Now, when I say ‘better’ what I mean is that you will be more knowledgeable, more able to give answers when someone has a question about God, your personal relationship with Jesus will be more real, and you will be more intentional in sharing what Jesus is doing in your life.
Let's look at some of the challenges many Christians face when trying to grow spiritually.
Christian Spiritual Growth is Not a Way to Earn Your Way Into Heaven
Some people might be confused, and fall into a dangerous trap where they think they must complete certain actions in order to earn their way into heaven, or make up for bad things they have done. So lets be clear, you cannot earn your way into heaven, it has already been offered to you by God! Here is a great verse speaking directly to that:
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
It is like someone who is offering you a gift, but you go and try to earn the money to buy it. There is no need to earn the money, they have already offered it to you as a gift!
Let's look at another situation many Christians struggle with relating to earning one's salvation.
The Loop of Despair - How Many Christians Get Trapped
In a fantastic sermon I recently listed to at Riverview Church in Lansing by pastor James Granger, he shared a powerful example of a situation many Christians get trapped in, which he called the loop of despair.
In this situation, you are trying to grow as a Christian, but there is some sin in your life that is bogging you down. So you sin, then feel guilty, decide to make a disciplined effort to change and make good progress for a little while. But then you feel pride that YOU were able to not do whatever the sin was for X amount of time. Unfortunately that sin then seduces you, and you fall into the sin once again.
Here is a visual representation of the loop of despair:
So What Can You Do?
You might be asking now, how do I get out of this loop! Well, the answer is both easy and hard.
It goes back to the verse above in Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God"So it is only though putting your faith in God, through trusting Him, that you can get out of this loop.
God wants us to trust Him, and the only way to get used to trusting God, is to practice doing that. it is both and easy, and incredibly challenging thing to do; to put our trust in someone else.
Remember, trust is progressive - the more you trust, the easier it becomes.
So now that you know what spiritual growth is, and some of the challenges, keep reading to find out why it’s important and how to grow as a Christian.
Why is Spiritual Growth Important?
Every Christian needs to continue to become more spiritually mature. Just like a baby that moves from baby food to solid food, so also a Christian must move from the basics to more challenging truths.
God calls us to become more spiritually mature; Paul tells us that we need to become more Christ like. He says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."
Now, of course we can never become like Jesus, but we must make it our goal to follow His example.
So if you are feeling stagnant or like you are still taking baby food, its time to start becoming more spiritually mature.
So basically Spiritual Growth is important because God calls us to do it. He calls us to continue to grow and learn more about Jesus and the salvation he has given us.
Lets now take a look at How we can become more spiritually mature.
The next step you need to take today
So now that you know a bit more about spiritual growth and the importance of it, what are you going to do to start becoming more spiritually mature? How are you going to change your life to reflect the change that is in your heart if you are a Christian?
Here are a few things you could do today to start the journey of spiritual maturity.
- Talk with your pastor or a good friend and set up a weekly accountability group.
- Join or start a Bible study.
- Start memorizing a few verses from the Bible.
- Download to your computer spiritual growth software.
Remember, the goal is not to just become a good, spiritually mature Christian, the goal is to try to become more like Christ every day. There is no finish line here on earth, it is in Heaven. So live your life pursuing Jesus.
Additional Resource: Spiritual Growth Software
A great resource i have found is to use spiritual growth software. You can easily download the software, and then use it on your computer. I spend a fair amount of time on my computer so now i use some of it to grow spiritually.
A site called LeaderNexus has created some great software that they offer as a free download.
The software is designed to let people use their computer as a means of spiritual growth. The program has several different functions. Here is a list of the different functions:
- 365 day Bible reading plan to help you read through the Bible in just a year! There is also a version for youth that goes through most of the Bible in a year.
- Journaling feature that allows you to write an entry, save it, organize it, and then view it later. Now you do not have to use pen and paper! You can journal on your computer and keep it safe and private.
- Prayer request log lets you record and review your prayers and mark the ones that have been answered, and the ones you are still waiting on.
- Bible reading chart makes it possible to check each chapter of the Bible you have read and keep track of where you are in your reading.
- finally, there is a Bible memory function that lets you practice memorizing scripture. it lets you hid either the verse or reference to help you memorize the Bible.
If you are interested in this software, a link to LeaderNexus is provided in the links area below.
Keys to Spiritual growth - A sermon
Great links for More Information on Spiritual Growth
Christian Leadership Blog with a variety of resources