Arrested development isn’t an option for followers of Christ. We have a sacred responsibility to mature continuously in our faith, to become more Christlike, to grow more attuned to God’s will. Maintaining a spiritual status quo does no one any good. The Lord urges us to dive deeply into Scripture so that we can become the disciples He intends us to be.
Here are four passages that will inspire you to grow in Christ or give you an accurate assessment of your spiritual maturity.
Chronological age has little to do with spiritual maturity. Paul urges his young protégé Timothy to embrace the role of leadership that had presented itself. Instead of looking to others for guidance, Paul encourages Timothy to blaze his own spiritual trail, using what he had learned from the godly examples of his mother and grandmother, from the mentoring he received from Paul, from his understanding of Scripture, and from the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
That same opportunity is available to you, regardless of your age. The more you understand about what it means to be a disciple and live for Christ, the more powerfully you can influence other people’s lives. You can serve as an example to other believers in the things you say and don’t say, the way you conduct your personal and public business, the love you show to friends and enemies alike, the spirit of joy you allow to shine through you regardless of circumstances, the strength of your faith in Christ, and the priority you place on purity.
One of the best ways to gauge your spiritual growth is to look at yourself from the perspective of people who dislike you. Can they see Christ in you? Can they spot the difference He’s made in your life? Can they get a sense of God’s love from the way you treat them? If the answer is no, it’s time to reassess your discipleship and figure out what is preventing the love of Christ from flowing freely through you to others.
Spiritual growth sharpens your vision. It allows you to see the opportunities that are hidden in the tribulations, challenges, and suffering you face. Without that sharpened vision, you may be tempted to feel discouraged, frustrated, or even defeated by trying circumstances. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul reveals the positive impact that tribulations can have if you approach them with the right spirit.
Every time you endure a tribulation by turning to God and His Word, not only do you grow spiritually, but you also build a deeper understanding of perseverance. Perseverance gives you confidence when facing your next tribulation. It also builds character within you. You start to think of yourself as someone who can withstand tribulation with God’s help. Once you establish a godly character, you can carry a sense of hope into any situation.
You’re not the only person who has a vested interest in your spiritual growth. Think of the person (or persons) who led you to Christ. Think of your family members and friends who pray for you every day, as Paul prayed for the Colossian believers. Think of the people in your church—your fellow members in the body of Christ—who need you to pull your weight as you accomplish God’s work together.
These people aren’t just rooting for your spiritual growth; they’re also drawing strength from it. They’re eyewitnesses to the Lord’s maturing work in you. They’re finding new reasons to praise and glorify God because of you. Those who are struggling may take hope and inspiration from your spiritual growth. The final takeaway, then, is that your spiritual growth is important for reasons that extend far beyond yourself.
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What is our true identity in Christ? A significant portion of the New Testament is devoted to answering that question. In order to fully embrace our identity, we need to understand the extraordinary privileges and responsibilities associated with it. These seven key passages offer clear insight.
Receiving Jesus as Lord changes our relationship status with God. We become His children. He welcomes us into His presence as all loving parents welcome their children. He delights in us. He knows what’s ultimately best for us and steers us toward it. Knowing that we can approach Him as a child approaches his or her father gives us peace of mind, confidence, and hope.
The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—grows in our lives as apples grow on the branches of an apple tree. As appendages of the tree (or “vine”), we’re nourished by something greater than ourselves. Jesus’ work within us produces qualities and characteristics that draw people to us—and to Him.
One of God’s most precious gifts to His children is His Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul explains it, when we choose to follow Christ, our bodies become temples in which the Holy Spirit dwells. From within, He performs His vital work of guiding us, convicting us of sin, helping us understand and apply God’s Word, and communicating our prayers to our Heavenly Father. We have the opportunity to bring glory to God in the way we care for our bodies—or temples. By taking care of ourselves, we glorify Him.
Every follower of Christ is a part of His body. Together we accomplish His work in the world. Individually, each member of Christ’s body plays a key role in its effectiveness. If one body part fails to do its job, the entire body suffers. Our identity in Christ gives us extra incentive to complete the work He’s given us, using the talents and abilities He’s given us.
When we assume our identity in Christ, we don’t become improved versions of our old selves. We become something else entirely: a new creation. That means we’re no longer tied to the mistakes of our past. We no longer have to carry the guilt and shame of past offenses. We’re no longer slaves to old desires and habits. In God’s eyes, we’re pure and spotless.
Our identity in Christ results from our being all-in. We no longer have the freedom to take back the reins when it suits us. Our lives are His—not for better or worse, but for better and best.
As members of God’s family, we’re understandably (and rightfully) held to a higher standard in the way we interact with others. We have an opportunity to give others a glimpse of Christ’s mercy, patience, and kindness. If we humbly point to Christ as the One who makes those qualities possible in our lives, we may help others find their own identity in Him.
Come and see.
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