The ultimate goal of Christians is to grow spiritually, right? We shouldn’t be a Christian many years and still be on the same level of maturity that we were on in the first years of our faith. Satan however, has blinded many well-meaning Christians into believing that doing “just enough’ is perfectly OK with God. Jesus, however, says,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2, ESV).
If we aren’t bearing fruit, then we aren’t growing—we are stamped with the medical term “failure to thrive” and we are cut off and thrown into the fire. So if we are planted and we don’t produce, we will not make the final cut.
So how does one grow spiritually? I mean it’s something we’d all love to get better at. We all want to deepen our faith and intimacy with the Father, right? So how do we do it? First off, we have to be grounded on the firm foundation that is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). If we don’t know the One who can make us grow, how in the world will we grow? Secondly, we need to be firmly grounded in the Word of God—the Bible. We need to have a solid understanding of what God wants us to do (doctrine) and be careful not to get it confused with what we sometimes think is what God wants us to do (tradition).
If we are not squarely set on the foundation of Christ and on the teachings that
“There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6)
then we have to search the word and gain the concepts given by God. Without these foundations in the word, our faith will crumble, just like the foolish builder who constructed his house on the sand (Matt. 7:24-27). The third way to grow spiritually is to spend as much time as you can with other Christians! Look at Acts 2:46-47:
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
So spending time with others, learning with others, fellowshipping with other Christians is where we can grow! Fourthly, If you want to grow spiritually, you’ve got to spend time with God. Praying daily, reading the Bible daily—these will enable the Holy Spirit to turn you more and more into the image of Christ. You can’t have a good marriage if you don’t spend time with your spouse and the same is true with God—if we don’t spend alone time with Him as much as possible, we will grow apart.
The problem occurs when we begin to camp on these basic things that we should know already and be able to teach others. This is where spiritual growth is stifled most. Read what the writer of Hebrews says about this:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, (2) and of instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment” (Heb. 6:1-2).
If we are stuck on these basic things for too long, we are put in the class of “spiritually immature.” I think the second problem that hinders our spiritual growth is when we get “puffed up” because we have too much faith in our own knowledge, logic, and thinking. We think we know what God wants for us, we think we’ve got a pretty good handle on the basics, and we now gain the sole responsibility of critiquing and criticizing every person that’s not on “our level” of spiritual grandeur, or the one who doesn’t agree with us. This is where we get stuck on the elementary things and miss the boat out into maturity in Christ. When we’re constantly criticizing and tearing down our brothers and sisters when they don’t agree with us, then we can’t even be right with God, let alone contend for the faith! At that point, our worship becomes unacceptable, and we are lumped into the dead vines awaiting a holy cremation. So how are you growing? Take this week to think about it, and adjust accordingly. Just something to think about.