Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Barometer for Spiritual Growth

One of our staff shared a great beginning-of-the-year devotional on Monday using Charles Stanley’s suggestions about what our priorities should look like in the year 2010 as believers. This was so helpful to all of us that we wanted to share it with everyone. A special thanks to Charles Stanley for his years of encouragement to so many!
A Barometer for Spiritual Growth - 13 Signposts to Mark Your Progress

Dr. Stanley compiled a list of 13 things for believers to use as a barometer for Spiritual growth…

  1. A hunger to know God more – if we are maturing in our Christian walk, then we will certainly have a growing hunger to know God. We will not be satisfied with how well we know Him or his ways: instead, we will constantly yearn for a deeper understanding of our Father.
  1. A desire to know the truth of the Word – if we are growing in the Lord, then we will want to know what He says about everything. A vital part of our maturity is understanding the power and relevance of God’s Word for us today, in every area of our lives.
  1. An increasing awareness of our sinfulness – as we grow closer to the Lord, we become more and more aware of our desperate need for Him. This awareness means that our maturing spirit simply will not tolerate the same sins that once came so easily.
  1. A quick response to sin, involving genuine repentance – when we are growing spiritually we will want to bring sin to the feet of God and repent of our actions as quickly as possible.
  1. Joy in the midst of intense spiritual battles – As we mature in our faith, spiritual warfare will become more intense. As we trust in the Holy Spirit, we can still rejoice because we know that God is in the process of developing us into mature believers. Every time He brings us through a battle, we are left with the assurance that there is nothing beyond His power to overcome.
  1. Understanding trials and temptations as opportunities for growth – the truth is that we generally learn the most about the Lord during those periods when everything seems hopeless. Even though the situation is painful, mature believers recognize the potential for God to reveal Himself in a mighty way. When our backs are against the wall and we have no choice but to trust the Lord’s power to see us through the trial, we discover things about His character that could not have been revealed otherwise.
  1. Viewing service to God as an honor, not a burden – if we are growing in the Lord, we will want to serve Him. The motivation for our service will be love, not responsibility or obligation.
  1. Viewing everything – both good and bad – as being under God's control – if we are to be mature believers, then we must understand the Father’s complete and total sovereignty. In other words, viewing everything - both good and bad- as being under God's control, and not too hard for Him to help us overcome. His will is perfect and He is able to bring good out of any situation. It is important that His children believe what He says in Romans 8:28 – that God can and does work all things together for good to those who love and serve Him.
  1. Faith to ask God for bigger things – as we mature in Christ, so does our faith and confidence that God will answer our prayers. The Lord wants us to pray big; there is nothing we can ask that will be too much for Him to accomplish.
  1. Eagerness to share Christ with others – one of the signs that you are growing in the Lord is that you cannot stay quiet about it. God’s overwhelming grace may overtake you in such a way that you just have to tell someone what He is doing in your live. As our faith matures, we develop a heart for other people. And since we know what God has done for us, the most sincere way to help others is to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
  1. Earnest desire to give to the Lord’s work - one key evidence of a believer’s maturity is what happens to his pocketbook. Over and over again, Scripture warns us about the dangers of money. Jesus taught on this subject more than any other topic in the Bible. If we are not faithful in that area, then every other part of our Christian life will be skewed. Matthew 6:21 reveals that the heart – our true focus – will be where our treasure lies. If your heart is for ministry, then you will give gladly to the work of the gospel.
  1. An increasing awareness of God in every area of your life - a mature believer is one who is constantly aware of the presence and work of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us that a growing Christian prays continually. Faith is not a part-time commitment. If we are believers, we must believe at all times.
  1. The priority of a personal devotional life - the most important part of the day for a mature believer is the time dedicated solely to growing closer to the Father. It is then that we are filled with power, direction, and comfort. Our time of devotion sets the tone for the whole day. A Christian who is truly growing in the Lord will certainly guard that precious time with Him.

The purpose of this list was not to give a precise report card evaluating whether or not you are “mature.” Rather, it is meant to provide a type of measuring stick by which you can assess your Christian growth. I think it is important to set goals in our Spiritual lives, and a New Year is a great time to do this!!