As I watch my children and grandchildren grow up around me, I am struck by the idea that it never ends. I see my youngest 21-year-old child, Seth, grow into his 6’4” self. I see my youngest 1-year-old grandson, Calvin, grow from crawler to walker. I see them growing, not only physically but, in all the areas that make up who they are.
We are all in various stages of the lifelong progress of physical, behavioral, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.
Our own growth CAN end, or simply stall, because we can choose to stop growing – perhaps not physically, but in other areas. We can choose to stagnate in our behavior and emotional growth. We can choose to not stall in our brain-based skills. And, we can definitely stop growing spiritually.
If you made a whole-hearted choice to follow Jesus, you could stop at that point and go no further in your spiritual maturity. However, the goal is to continue to mature each day until we stand face-to-face with Father God at the end of our earthly life.
What is spiritual growth? Generally speaking, it is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus in nature. This is a life-long process that happens by spending time in God’s Word, in His Presence, and cooperating with His Holy Spirit.
There are a number of things that can hinder that growth.
This is a huge obstacle in our lives. We are born with a carnal nature; not a Christ-centered nature. Pride and personal comfort are close cousins of self-centeredness. These must be crucified in the same way that Jesus agreed to be crucified for us. Choose humility and others above self.
If we do not know what pleases God, how can we grow spiritually? Ignorance can be easily overcome by spending time getting to know God. God wants us to experience Him daily and grow in an abundance life (John 10:10) Spend time in God’s Word, in His Presence, and in prayer.
3. Lack of Commitment / Compromise:
To grow spiritually requires that we keep moving toward God. To try to live the way the world says we should live often contradicts how God wants us to live. Distractions, the wrong friends, what we watch and listen to are all factors. Be all in! Be very selective with who and what you surround yourself.
Because God is holy, sin puts a wall between us and God. There are all kinds of sin – from blatant to oblivious; from sexual immorality to unforgiveness. They all separate us from God. Ask God to reveal your sins, repent and be held accountable moving forward.
We have been saved by Jesus! Many of us, myself included, need to start living like it! The Bible tells us that we are to, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) See also Philippians 4:8 Change your negative thoughts into thoughts of gratitude.
Don’t be overwhelmed. God knows that we are in process and that takes a lifetime. Only when we are glorified in heaven will we receive God’s final removal of sin from our lives, thanks to Jesus. This is a blessing bestowed upon every believer as He brings us into eternal perfection.
Throughout my own process, I have seen God, gently and lovingly, bring things to my attention that He wanted me to deal with. Just recently, He showed me something about myself. This was a gift, wrapped up in an ‘ouch’ moment. His intent is for me to be aware of it and to change it. It is my choice to do so.
A good measuring stick is found in Galatians 5:22-24, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.” (NLT)
It’s time to begin the ongoing habit of self-evaluation through God’s eyes and according to God’s Word. Ask God to reveal what He sees in you. Keep growing, friends.
Sylvia Gaston is Family Ministry Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She can be reached at email@example.com or 559-582-1528.