Devotional practices like Bible reading and prayer are not the ultimate criteria for spiritual growth.
If someone asks you, “Hey, how’s your spiritual life going?” I bet your mind immediately goes to what Christians call “quiet time.” If we fall short in this area, we probably won’t rate our spiritual life very highly.
Sure, these are good practices, but can one measure the condition of their soul by how much time they spend in the Bible and in prayer? What would Jesus say? In His day, the people who would’ve rated highest on the devotional practices scale would’ve been the scribes and the Pharisees.
“Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.’” Matthew 23:1-3 (emphasis mine)
The Pharisees had no problem with commitment to their devotional practices. They did, however, have a problem with living out what they taught. With that being said, the first step to growing spiritually can be found in commitment to devotional practices, while also being just as committed to “fleshing out” those practices.
Commitment must not be confused with Christlikeness.
Reading about Jesus doesn’t make you like him. Loving like Him does.
READING ABOUT JESUS DOESN'T MAKE YOU LIKE HIM. LOVING LIKE HIM DOES.https://t.co/GrNytKnxGZ
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) January 11, 2016
Commit to spending daily time in the Word and prayer. But also commit to obey what you read in the Word.
“Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.” Psalms 119:5-6
As Christians, we must be just as diligent at living out Christ’s love as we are to prayer, scripture reading, going to church, serving at church, and a host of other devotional practices.
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15
I know commitment can be a struggle. It is for everyone. But even the most uncommitted person is committed to at least something. And if you can commit to one thing, you can commit to more. My guess is, you wouldn’t be reading this unless you’re hungry for more Jesus in your life.
Commitment to God is not just about making a new habit. It’s far greater. It’s about surrender. Surrender means to allow something to influence or control you.
As for me, I have to commit to surrendering control of my life every single day to Jesus. Sometimes I need to surrender moment by moment. And that takes commitment.
Be persistent until you are consistent.
The only way to have consistency with anything is to start and then keep at it. Strive to be consistent over the length of time you spend. A few minutes everyday is the goal, rather than a longer period of time every other day.
Studies show that it takes three weeks (21 days) to form a habit. Commit to spending a few minutes daily to spiritual growth for three weeks. Once you’ve developed the daily habit of a few minutes daily, then gradually increase the amount of daily time spent.
Select a time to spend with God that best suits who you are.
If you’re not a morning person, then setting your alarm to get up at five in the morning probably won’t work well. The important thing is making it a habit.
Write it down.
Write down your plan of commitment and put it in a place you will see it everyday. A 3×5 card near your toothbrush is a suggestion.
With community comes accountability.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Tell a few trusted people your spiritual goals and ask for accountability.
Most of us know that having accountability leads to better results. We increase the odds of attaining spiritual goals if we surround ourselves with others that are like-minded.
Jesus is our example of how community is the context for spiritual growth. He created a community of followers that traveled with Him, living and learning from Him as they went through life. They grew together in faith individually, but they did so largely in the setting of community as they prayed, learned and ministered together.
The first church in the book of Acts is another example of community.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
Finally, remember that spiritual growth is a process. When making your goal to grow spiritually, factor in that there will be days that you will fall short. DO NOT GIVE UP. If we didn’t fall short, there would be no need for Jesus. If you missed spending time on your spiritual growth today, rest in this fact— tomorrow is a new day to start again!
“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
YOUR TURN: What are some of your goals for spiritual growth in 2016? Share in the comments below:
This post is linked to Literacy Musing Mondays on Forever Joyful. You should check out this wonderful blog that includes links to other useful blogs.
I’m honored to receive The Liebster Award! I’d like to thank Emily at Fearfully and Wonderfully Me. You should check out her blog at:
- Post the award to her blog
- Answer the nominating blogger’s ten question interview
- Nominate 3-10 other bloggers with fewer than 3,000 followers whom she wants to encourage
- Create ten questions for the new nominees.
Emily’s Questions for me: (Which may be very random):
- Why did you start blogging? To use social media to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and encourage other Christians.
- What other forms of writing do you like to practice (if any)? I’m a freelance writer and author. I’ve been published in children’s magazines and my local newspaper. I’m currently writing a YA novel and a women’s Bible study (in collaboration with three other women). I also write poetry and songs.
- Coffee or tea? Both. But coffee first.
- Do you have any other artistic interests/hobbies? I’m a singer and songwriter. I l help lead worship at church. I love, love reading and research—especially of the Bible and history. I enjoying jogging and will do it as long as my knees hold out.
- What is your biggest New Year’s resolution? To finish my YA novel to present to agents/publishers at The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May.
- Do you keep a journal or diary? Yes! I have a personal journal and a prayer journal. I blogged about my prayer journal at:
- What is your favorite blog post that you have written so far? I wrote a series of blogs about Prayer in October and November.
- Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars!
- What is the name and artist of the last song you listened to?Chis Tomlin, You’re a Good Father
- What is the best dream you ever had? A dream where I’m with my mom. She passed away 4 yrs. ago. I miss her deeply and it was wonderful to see her again in my dream. I look forward to seeing her in heaven with Jesus 🙂
My Nominees are:
Patty of Girl on Adventure: http://girlonadventure.com/
Rebecca of The Rebecca Koontz site: http://rebekahkoontzsite.com/
Nelie of Neli Betancourt: http://nelibetancourt.com/
Tai of A Spirit-Kissed Soul: https://aspiritkissedsoul.wordpress.com/
Now it’s your turn!
Okay, have fun! I follow some amazing bloggers. These are only a few who I thought may enjoy participating.