How is my spiritual life going?
What scale do you use to answer this question? Does the answer depend on your actions: how much time you spend reading the Bible, having quiet time, praying, attending church activities, obeying the letter of the law?
Do you think that if you just try harder, you’ll be a better Christian?
Did it work for the Pharisees? How about for those with addictions? This kind of self-improvement plan just doesn’t work. God saved you by grace. And by grace he will guide, guard, and energize you daily to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual growth comes about as you discover how God designed you. You are unique, one-of-a-kind, and designed to interact in a special relationship with your Father God. When you begin to accept your design and stop comparing yourself with others around you, you can eliminate guilt and fear when you are asked about your spiritual life. You won’t hang your head because you don’t get up as early as your neighbor to read the Bible, attend church functions more often, or pray for extended periods of time.
In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg tells of a wise man who uses two questions to assess the well-being of his soul.
- Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?
- Am I growing more easily irritated these days?
This easy-to-use diagnostic tool can be a handy barometer for the inner climate. The answers to these questions will reveal the truths about your inner person.
- If peace is growing in you, you have hope and are less easily discouraged.
- If love is flourishing, you are less easily irritated.
Being spiritual is not something we can accomplish by trying harder. No matter how many good works we do, we are sinners and in need of salvation through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. That’s the Good News!
- We won’t grow our spirituality by measuring it in comparison to others.
- We won’t grow our spirituality by not knowing or by denying the way we have been designed by God.
His Holy Spirit works deeply and gently within us.
I (Paul) get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:14-20, The Message
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Read through the example below: Do you see yourself?
|Tom works two jobs to pay the bills. He has tried to get up early to pray, but dozes off mid-prayer. The two guys with whom he attended Promise Keepers® have made a daily habit of sunrise prayer, and he feels like a failure.||Sarah loves to be alone. She spends hours in solitude with God. Her gregarious husband Abe lives to interact with other people, from his family and friends to a store clerk or whoever answers when he dials the wrong number. Sarah wishes her husband would take his spirituality more seriously, like she does.|
- What is the result if we try to mirror our spiritual life after someone else’s? How did it work for Tom, Sarah, or Abe?
- Is there someone you compare yourself to? Does God measure your relationship with Him in comparison to His walk with someone else?
- We learn a lot by following good examples, being mentored, and by learning from others. In what way can it be bad to emulate someone we admire?
- If you are a parent, how might this discussion pertain to the way you interact with your children?
Pray Psalm 139 (MSG) with me:
Oh, Lord, Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! (17)
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.(16)
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in! (6)
I offer myself up, all of my life, as a living sacrifice to you, Oh Lord.