I have a garden each year consisting of one type of plant… tomatoes. There is nothing like a ripe, juicy tomato on a good sandwich or all by itself. Fried green tomatoes are a food group all by themselves. My tomatoes do best when I keep a careful eye on my plants by weeding; watering, fertilizing, and sometimes they need prayer! Regular attention to my plants is a key if a bumper crop is expected.
Personal spiritual growth in Christ does not happen unless I make it a priority and pay close attention to my walk with God each day. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
If I am to bear fruit for the Kingdom I must remain or abide in Christ. One way to do this is to always face the Son. I always plant my tomatoes facing the sun for the best growth; we too must face the Son every day as we grow spiritually. Meet Him in your devotional time and commit your life to His service each day.
Here are a few thoughts on personal spiritual growth.
1. What is spiritual growth? There is a phrase in 1 Cor 7:35b that captures it for me, “but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” This is spiritual growth…living a life that has “undivided focus and devotion to the Lord.” Reading helps us with this endeavor. Good solid devotional books are helpful but no book substitutes for the Word of God. The Word in us changes us. I do not know one growing Christian that is not in the Word! Go to it every day to see what the Lord wants to say to you and keep your focus on Him.
2. Make spiritual growth a priority. We get what we prioritize in life. If I want to get in shape then exercise becomes a priority and a daily habit and I develop a plan. It is not enough to say, “I am going to read my Bible.” You must set a time, a place, and have a plan to make it happen. Nothing is dynamic unless it is specific.
3. We get closer if we aim! Write down some specific goals for your spiritual life. I believe that written goals motivate us more than verbal goals. Write them down and keep them close by as a reminder of your commitment. This will help you stay on track and move forward.
4. Gather spiritual growth resources- We have already mentioned God’s Word as the main source but think about other devotional materials or discipleship materials you can study and work through. Maybe get a partner to go through a resource like, Experiencing God.
5. Remember, we don’t get what we expect but what we inspect. Make yourself accountable to someone. Who is inspecting your life? Informal or formal accountability groups can motivate us to follow through on our commitments and keep us moving in the right direction. Lone ranger Christianity is dangerous and is not biblical. As Believers in Christ we are in community.
6. Evaluate often- Perform a maintenance check up like you do for your car. Evaluate every segment of your life (social, financial, relationships, etc.) and remember the spiritual goals you have written down. Keep focused on the goal of growing in Christ.
7. Spiritual coaching- As you grow spiritually, you will want to share with others what the Lord is teaching you and help others grow too. Enlist someone to be your spiritual apprentice and invest yourself in another person with whom you can share your spiritual journey (Paul-Timothy model). Mentoring others is how Jesus invested Himself in His followers.
A growing, spiritual disciple of Christ is a person who shows an increasing Christ-likeness demonstrated by an undeniable love for God and others, a vibrant prayer life, a love of Scripture, an obedient lifestyle of personal evangelism, use of talents and personal resources, spiritual gifts and service used for the Kingdom of God, consistent manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, and extravagant worship that treasures Christ.
Personal spiritual growth comes when we make a concerted, intentional effort to become more like Jesus. Spiritual transformation does not happen if you are on auto pilot.
I would write more but I’ve got to go plant my tomatoes.