Before our son was born, my wife and I would read books, articles, and watch videos about the growth and development inside the womb. I recall week 2, where he was only the size of a sesame seed and his heart was beginning to beat for the first time. At week 15, our son was the size of an apple, weighing in at 2.5 ounces. His major organs were fully developed and his hair and eyebrows were beginning to form. At 30 weeks, our baby was the size of a butternut squash and weighed nearly 3 pounds. Now he is 7 months old, making grunt noises, laughing, crawling everywhere, and growing exponentially!
Growth is the process of change which can be measured and seen in a living thing. Everything that is living is also growing. However, unlike plants and animals, God wants us to grow both physically and spiritually. The Scripture teaches that physical growth is of some value but growing in godliness has value for all things (1 Tim. 4:8). Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica: “We ought to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all you have for one another is increasing” (2 Thess. 1:3).
Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, we can’t grow at all. Biblical scholar Sinclair Ferguson states: “Jesus is the author of our spiritual growth, in the sense that he creates it for us, but he is also its pioneer because he does so out of his own incarnate life, death, and resurrection. He is the pioneer of our salvation because He has endured the cross and climbed God’s holy hill with clean hands and a pure heart (Ps. 24:3). This is the significance of his words shortly before the cross, “Sanctify [the disciples] by the truth…as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified (Jn. 17:17-19).” Once we have been born again (Jn. 3), we can take practical steps to grow spiritually and be the light to a dark world.
5 PRACTICAL STEPS TO GROW SPIRITUALLY
1. Acquire a Daily Bible Reading Plan – There are many good resources out there. You can visit http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/ to search through various studies: book order, chronological, daily psalm, 90 day challenge, classic, etc. Blessed is the man who meditates on the Word day and night.
2. Take notes during the Sunday Sermon – This discipline will help you think through what your pastor is preaching each week at your local church. Also, if you writes notes, you will be able to recall the main points and discuss it with family, friends, or your spouse.
3. Find an Accountability Partner – Find a friend or personal loved one (parent, spouse, sibling, etc) who can keep you accountable to repent in a godly manner. Commit a time, preferably in the morning, of confessing your sins before God and asking for forgiveness. Meditate on these verses (Ex. 15:26, Ps. 86:5; 103:3, Isa. 43:25; Jer. 30:17; Matt. 9:2-6; Eph. 1:7).
4. Fight against “Respectable Sins” – Pick out a sin you struggle with most and work on the process of putting off and putting on. For example, if you are tempted to gossip about others, repent and be an encourager instead. Keep a journal of your progress so that you can see how much you have grown in your areas of weaknesses. Remember, growing in the Lord is not only forsaking sin, but conforming more into the image of God through the spiritual disciplines.
5. Pray through the Psalms – Make no mistake, praying is difficult. Paul, a spiritual giant, admits his own frailty concerning prayer: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Rom. 15:30). It’s easy to get sidetracked when we pray so allow a psalm to help you out. For example, Psalm 1 starts out with Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Meditate on this verse and then began to pray. Lord, thank you that I no longer seek counsel from ungodly men, but I receive it from your perfect law. Now I am blessed because your Word is like a tree that is planted by streams of water, it will flourish and grow! By using the psalms as a template for your own prayers, it will help you communicate more clearly and stay focused.