Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spiritual Growth, pt. 4

To close out the series, I'd like to introduce a little figure that I adapted from Dallas Willard that helps me understand and communicate the practical aspects of spiritual growth.

It's all founded on the precepts and promises of God's Word.  You will not grow without a consistent intake of the Scriptures and (this "and" is very important) a steady faith-filled obedience to them.  I point you to 2 Peter 1 where we learn that through these we become partakers of His nature.  When you obey the precepts (even when you don't feel like it), you are living according to what God says is best and will be able to experientially testify to that.  When you believe the promises of God (again, even when it's so foggy there's no way to see how they'll come true), you are banking your life on the steadiness and goodness of the Almighty and will outwit the promising-but-false temptations of the Enemy.

Another piece is the practice of the disciplines.  Without a regular rhythm of disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness, you will not grow (1 Timothy 4.7-8).  This includes prayer, fasting, Scripture memory, serving, worshipping and many other disciplines.  They are like tools in the toolbox - not everything is a nail in need of a hammer.  With wisdom from those who have gone before you and experience in the disciplines themselves, you will grow to know what you need when you need it.

The final piece is perseverance in the trials of life.  These can be everyday trials like parenting or overwhelming trials like cancer.  No matter which version or any in between, persevering yields character that is proven (Romans 5.3-5).  Perseverance means having the sense that God is with you and for you, even in the midst of the trial, and keeping going in light of that.  Interestingly, trial and temptation are one and the same word in the NT.  Every trial has in it the temptation to "curse God and die" (Job 1).  And every temptation is certainly a trial.  Both can be spiritually beneficial when we bear up under them, knowing God's faithfulness and looking for His provision (1 Cor. 10.13).

One last word on this:  they stand and fall together.  We can major on one and miss the others and actually find ourselves stunted in our spiritual growth.  As you live in this, watch how the Spirit works to bring you into Christlikeness.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

No comments:

Post a Comment