God wants you to grow into the design he created. And the reason God wants you to grow is so that–so that you can paint a picture, make meals for the hungry, build houses for the homeless, raise a family, or make others laugh. So that you can affect others around you in the way God designed for you. If you don’t, the rest of us miss out on the gift you were meant to give.
How do we grow?
What shapes your body?
The way you eat, drink, sleep, exercise, heal, and live. Whether you work at it or ignore it, your body shows the effects.
The inner you also shows the effects of the attention it receives.
What shapes the inner you?
What you see, read, hear, think, and do. This is spiritual formation—and it’s not an optional activity reserved for ministers or monks. Every one of us is in the process of being shaped—for better or for worse.
Think about it.
- If you want to get your body in shape, you make a plan and follow it: healthful eating, exercise, a balance of work and play, etc. What kind of a plan would you make to get the inner you in shape?
- What would such a plan look like? What would it include?
- Is it true that once you get in shape, you’re set? Is this true physically? Spiritually? What’s your maintenance plan?
- Is the plan rigid, never-changing? Is the plan the important thing? Or the results?
- Is it up to you to grow your inner self? Will it only happen if you try harder, push more?
- Have you gone to a Pilates or Yoga class? The instructors don’t tell you to try harder to stretch, try harder to be flexible, try harder to contort you body into a pretzel. Instead they tell you, “relax, let go, let gravity take over, relax into what your body can do and concentrate on breathing.” Does this have a correlation to growth of the inner you?
- If spiritual growth depends on your efforts, will you get fixated on your own heroic efforts? Will you judge others who are stuck on a plateau? What if you find that your self-righteousness is growing rather than your faith? Have you ever identified with the Pharisee who thanked God he was not like the sordid little tax collector over there cowering in the corner of the temple?
- If living a life of faith is not all up to you; if the more we push the farther from God we get; what is it that we need to relax into?
- “Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.” (Franciscan priest Richard Rohr)
- What is the river we can experience that will bring us growth?
What does the Bible say?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Apply the words from Phillipians 4:8-9 to you life by answering the following questions:
- TRUTH. Am I real? Am I what I appear to be?
- NOBLE. Does this lift my spirits? Am I inspiring? What are people like when they leave me?
- RIGHT. Am I right at work? In relationships? Did God’s spirit flow through me to others today?
- PURE. Are my motivations pure or polluted from within? What am I trying to hide?
- LOVELY. Does it melt my heart? Without using looks as a unit of measure, what is evoked by my presence? Is it compelling?
- ADMIRABLE. It is worth my time, effort, or money? If I participate, what kind of reputation will I have?
- EXCELLENT. Do I give 100% in what I do? Do I offer my best?
- PRAISEWORTHY. Do all these attributes reside in me?
Pray with me.
Almighty God, Father and Savior, source of all strength, Help me to desire to grow in your design instead of trying to remake myself in the image of someone else. Turn my thoughts and my talents toward your path and lead me so that I can be your echo in this world. Amen.