Growing Spiritually? How does one know?
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 ESV)
We have become accustomed to having our growth measured in a variety of ways. When we were in school, we were subjected to numerous exams and achievement tests. Often, too, our performance at work is evaluated. In addition to the number of various devises used during our physical exams, doctors have even devised a method to assess the degree of pain. Yet, we may experience difficulties in measuring our spiritual growth even though supposedly each believer strives to become more Christ-like.
The apostle Paul refers to numerous Christians as babes in Christ needing spiritual milk rather than a more solid diet. Are we content to remain as spiritual infants or do struggle to attain greater spiritual maturity?
Believers new to the faith are frequently bewildered by the fact that their old battles with envy, anger and unforgiveness do not somehow magically disappear upon their acceptance of the Christian faith. They seem blissfully unaware that spiritual growth is a long and gradual process and is impossible to achieve solely through self-effort! In fact the harder one tries to become more spiritual, usually the more frustrated one becomes. At this point it becomes imperative to “Let Go and Let God’ as growth without the assistance of the Holy Spirit dooms one to remain a spiritual pygmy.
Similar to our physical growth, which requires a proper diet and exercise, our spiritual advancement too relies on spiritual food and exercise, as it is not automatic. Further, our approach to spiritual growth should mimic the variance in our physical diet as we do not just eat meat or potatoes or vegetables rather we seek balance and so it is with our spiritual diet! Bible study has great potential provided if one has opportunities to survey the messages with fellow believers. Church attendance has possibilities but it is not adequate in itself to foster enhanced spiritual growth. Also we need prayer and meditation to guide us to sources uniquely designed for each of us. The simple petition, “God, I do want to become more Christ-like in both word and deed. Guide me to sources to assist me in my Christian walk”. I have never known this prayer not to be answered!! However, this is not just a passive response; we need to keep alert to prompts by the Holy Spirit!
As you are committed to becoming more Christ-like through the aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will begin to become more assured that you are growing! However, it is helpful to measure progress in your spiritual journey from time to time. One indicator: Do you feel less inclined to engage in some of the questionable activities in which you may have previously participated? Have your friends noted and perhaps mentioned a change in you? One way to measure your progress is to ask more mature believers if your actions more clearly reflect your sought after growth? However, it is imperative that you continue to seek God’s guidance as to areas of further growth.
If one is determined to get to know Our Lord more intimately; if one engages in spiritual growth activities not as a duty but in expectation of growth; if one becomes increasingly aware of the working of God in the world around us and praise Him in both word and deed; then one can become confident that no longer are we babes in Christ but rather growing in spiritual maturity and you will recognize your growth and so will your fellow believers. Amen