Growth is a basic part of life.  When a new baby is born, parents anticipate development — first words and initial steps.  My family and I look forward to some sort of produce from your yearly garden.  Business managers expect the development of new products and increases in sales.  Growth is a fact of life.  It is also a fundamental part of the spiritual realm.  The Lord has created our relationship with Him to involve a continual, ongoing progression. 

In one of his writings, the apostle John said, “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed” (1 John 3:2).  According to John, no believer is fully equipped with every spiritual virtue.  The Christian life requires a gradual growth in godliness.  Though growth is an expected experience in the Christian life, many believers struggle with it.  Because Satan is a master deceiver (Genesis 3:1-7 and John 8:44), he works hard to blind us to spiritual realities.  I believe he wants us to be confused concerning our spiritual growth because he knows that strong, vibrant, growing Christians will offer a powerful witness to a lost world (Matthew 5:16).  As a result, he’s duped many, rendering them inactive in the sanctification process.  In order to see through his smokescreens, I believe modern believers need to be reminded of three keys to spiritual progress.

Watch your intake. 

The path to spiritual progress travels through our souls.  Jesus preached His hardest sermons to stuffy, self-righteous religious people.  When He did, He often rebuked them for their flippancy regarding internal matters of the heart (Matthew 23:14-36).  If we want to stand strong spiritually, we must monitor what we allow into our innermost being.  It is through our soul that we relate to God (John 4:24), so we must guard it carefully.  The Proverbs say, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  If you want to grow, commit to allowing no unclean thing into your heart (Psalm 101:3), and commit to regularly ingesting God’s truth (1 Peter 2:1-2).

Guard your priorities. 

Priorities are powerful.  They display the content of your heart (Matthew 6:21), but they can also direct the content of your heart (Joshua 24:15 and Philippians 3:14).  If you will direct your desires and set your schedule according to godly priorities, you will inevitably grow.  Many unwittingly sabotage any possibility of spiritual progress, because they fill their budget, their schedule, and their downtime with things which are contrary to the Kingdom of Christ.  If you want to mature, make Christ first (Matthew 6:33).

Give time for change. 

All change takes time.  Whether one is trying to lose weight, build a new friendship, save for retirement, or rewrite an organizational culture, patience is required.  Our fast food, instant oatmeal culture wants us to think that spiritual growth should be speedy.  It’s not.  God has made it to be a lengthy, lifelong process.  If it was quick, persevering faith wouldn’t be required (Hebrews 11:6).  If you want to grow, be committed.  Give it time, and you will see the fruit of growth in due time (Psalm 37:4).  Don’t give up before you see the payoff for pursuing Christ!

Dr. Patrick Latham

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