In one of our closet walls in our first home, we had a growth chart for our children. Every year just before Christmas we would mark down how much our children had grown that year. Grandparents were always anxious to know how big the children were getting when we sent our Christmas letter. Every year our children's report cards would reflect their growth in knowledge. Some growth is fairly easy to measure, but, spiritual growth is a bit more tricky.
So, how do we measure our spiritual growth and health? How can we be assured of progress in our walk with God? If we are honest, our hearts will tell us how much more or less like Christ we are becoming. However, I want to point out several measurements that will help you determine how your spiritual health is really coming along. I will use Hebrews, Philippians and Romans for my list of spiritual health questions. Rate yourself on each point.
1. Am I a contributor or a consumer? Hebrews 5:12 "By this time you ought to be teachers, but you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again." Am I in church for what I can get, or am I a contributor? One sigh that you are growing spiritually is that you are more of a giver than a taker, more of a teacher than a student, more of a burden-bearer than a burden-maker, or, more of a contributor than a consumer. Spiritual growth means I'm willing to step out and take the lead or do what needs to be done.
2. Am I eating meat or drinking milk? Heb. 5:12b-13 "You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness." Babies drink milk and can't digest meat. Can you feed yourself? Can you get beyond basic faith and grow? Drinking milk means ingesting predigested food. Eating meat means you are devouring on your own the food you find in God's Word. Your diet declares your level of spiritual growth. Spiritually mature people develop an appetite for truth and the meat of the Word.
3. Am I able to discern truth from error? Heb. 5:14 "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Can you distinguish good teaching from bad teaching? If you are growing spiritually, you have better Biblical judgment because you know God's Word and can apply it in practical situations. The Holy Spirit's thoughts become your thoughts.
4. Am I selfless? In Philippians 2:3 Paul said, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. How much do I think about others in comparison to thinking about myself? How much am I willing to take a genuine interest in the things that matter most to other people even if they don’t matter to me at all? How much do I put other people’s needs before and above my own?
5. Am I willing to sacrifice? In Philippians 2:5 Paul encouraged his readers to have the same attitude Jesus had. In verse 6 he wrote, "Though He was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, HE GAVE UP His divine privileges." What did Jesus give up to save you? He “gave up” His perfect heavenly home and privileges. What of value are you willing to give up for Jesus? Time, money, worldly possessions? What is truly important to you? Our willingness to sacrifice to God and for others is a great way to measure our spiritual growth.
6. Am I willing to serve? Concerning Jesus Paul said in Philippians 2:7, "He took the humble position of a SLAVE…" Jesus was always serving others, teaching others, washing their feet, healing them, and laying down His life for them. If we value people we will look for ways to serve them as well. One measurement of spiritual growth is that, like Jesus, you are willing to do menial things that are a blessing to others.
7. Am I willing to submit? Paul continues in Philippians 2:8, "When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in OBEDIENCE to God…" The idea here is OBEDIENCE. Jesus was obedient to what His Father was requiring Him to do. A major way to measure your spiritual growth is to honestly assess how obedient or submissive you are to what God wants from you. How obedient are you in the areas of sexual purity, lust, time management, using your gifts, overeating, and giving? Also we must ask the question, “How submissive am I to the people God has placed over my life (spouse, boss, spiritual leader)?” A maturing Christian is one who can see progress not perfection.
8. Am I willing to suffer? Concerning Jesus, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:8b, "…and died a criminal’s death on a cross." Jesus knew that God would use His suffering to bring about salvation for us all. Our growth comes when we suffer without complaining and endure persecution without pouting. If we give fearless testimony for Christ wherever we go we can expect to suffer loss, but, God will bring about a greater good when we do.
9. Am I increasing in Love? Romans 12:9-10 "Love must be sincere... Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." The only way to measure your love is by the times you have showed love in practical ways. Yes, your heart needs to be filled with love first, but, love is a verb and is shown by deeds, not just thoughts and words. So, am I doing my loving deeds with no selfish motive? Am I faithful in pouring my life and my love into the lives of others?
10. Am I able to stay committed to people during tough times? Rom. 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in love." Ask yourself, "Has my love stood the tests of trials and the tests of time?" Do I give up on people who disagree with me or don't like me? Do I pick only friends who can be a blessing to me, or, am I willing to befriend those in need and those going through hard times.
11. Am I excited about the things of God? Rom. 12:11 "Never lack zeal, keep spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Are you excited about people getting saved, being with God's family, & reading His Word? When you take a shower you have to get under the spout where the water comes out. I encourage people to get where the spiritual water is flowing. When in church, sit up close. Get under the spout where the glory comes out. When you are singing, pour out your praises to the Lord with all your heart and voice. Enthusiasm is catching! Spread some excitement!
12. Am I using my spiritual gifts? Rom. 12:11 "...Keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Do I make plans to do Christian service? Am I serving the Lord with my time, talents and treasures? Do I even know what I'm good at doing for my Heavenly Father? You cannot pass this spiritual growth milestone if you do not get down to business in service to others and the church. Schedule time for serving God. Make His kingdom a priority in your personal and financial life.
13. Am I practicing a consistent, vibrant prayer life? Rom. 12:11 "...fervent and faithful in prayer." Do I have a time set aside on a regular basis that I spend with God alone? Have I learned the pattern of prayer that Jesus taught us? (See Matt. 6). Do I list both specific prayers and specific answers in my prayer journal? Is my prayer life "hot" or "cold?"
14. Am I giving to others when God puts a need in front of me? Rom. 12:13 "Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." What is my reaction when I see someone with a financial need? Do I think only of storing up for myself or am I thinking of how I can bless them? Am I also being faithful in giving to my local church? If I cannot give something, I am not trusting God enough.
15. Am I handling my haters with love? Romans 12:14 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." When people ridicule, curse and offend you, are you able to turn around and bless them, speak well of them, or do something kind for them? God sees the evil done to you and will repay them. You don't have to take revenge. He can handle your haters.
16. Am I doing my best to live at peace with everyone? Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.." A sign that you are growing spiritually is that you know how to give it all to God and not create enemies with your tongue.
17. Am I able to celebrate when God blesses other people's lives? Rom. 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice." When others get what you want, are you secretly filled with so much anger and jealousy that you lose your joy, or are you able to rejoice with them? When you rejoice at other peoples success stories, it means you are growing spiritually. It means you are thankful for what God has done in your life and because of that you are able to celebrate with others.
18. Am I increasing in compassion toward those who are hurting? Rom. 12:15 "Mourn with those who mourn." If your heart goes out to people in hard times, then are you willing to lay down your time and your life to bring them help and healing? Someone who is growing spiritually has the heart of the Good Samaritan. Is that you?
So, how are we doing? I could go on with verses and spiritual growth questions all day, but, I want to encourage you to ask yourself these 18 questions as God lays it on your heart, and then measure your own spiritual growth. Are you willing to be selfless, sacrifice, serve, submit to and suffer for others, etc.? The more we grow in these areas the more we look like Jesus.
Lord Jesus, you have given us spiritual birth, spiritual food and spiritual exercises. Help us to use all the tools in our tool chest to grow in the spiritual graces, in spiritual fruit, and in spiritual depth. Don't just make us smart, make us wise in our attitudes and actions. Give us a spiritual booster shot from your Word every day. Put your plan for our life in front of us so that we would have to trip over it to miss it.... and thank you for your own divine spiritual growth plan that you are putting in front of us today through Your Spirit and Your Word. Amen!
Yours in the Club of Spiritual Growth,
Upcoming at Faith Fellowship:
Each Sunday -- 10 AM Worship service @ 2497 State Hwy 35, Luck, WI Message this Sunday: "Lessons About Marriage and the Family"
Nov. 15 -- New Furnace to arrive at Faith Fellowship
Nov. 24 -- Pie Sunday at Church after the service (feel free to bring a pie to share)
Dec. 1 -- Bill Gnatzig and Abby Inlow doing special music
Dec. 15 -- Pearlgrace doing special music
Dec. 22 -- Christmas Sunday / Roller family doing special music
"Too many people overvalue what they have not and undervalue what they are.” — Malcolm S. Forbes
Doctrine reproves us, that is, it stops us in our tracks when we're going the wrong way. It corrects us, meaning it turns us back to the right direction. And then it gives us instruction in righteousness, which puts us on the path of right living.
The greatest danger is not that we will renounce our faith. The greatest danger is that we will become so distracted, rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. -- John Ortberg
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie Ten Boom
I hope to see you at church real soon! Pastor Ken ...