Tuesday, August 1, 2017

4 Ways to Aid Spiritual Maturity

Spiritual growth is a sticky issue. On one hand, failing to grow leads to a multitude of problems. On the other, we lack the ability to grow; growth is a gift which ultimately flows from the hand of God.

Yet while we cannot force ourselves to mature, we can aid the process, like a farmer who plants and waters and fertilizes. After all, Paul still had to plant and Apollos still watered, even though the growth came from God (1 Corinthians 3:6). So here are four ways to encourage healthy spiritual growth:
Eat right. Without proper nutrition, our physical bodies won’t grow the way they’re supposed to. The spiritual requires the same. This is why biblical literacy is so important. Just as you need food to create energy, you need knowledge to apply it.
However, eating right is about more than Bible study. It refers to anything you “consume” —activities, conversations, and especially media. So are you feeding your heart and mind that which promotes general healthiness? This doesn’t mean everything you consume must be Christian. Eating a diet of fast-food Christianity consistently can be quite damaging. Rather, does what you consume, Christian or not, promote overall spiritual health? Does it make you think or challenge you to deepen your beliefs? Does it provide concrete images of biblical principles in action?
Exercise. Diet and exercise—they seem to be an inseparable pair, not matter what realm you are dealing with: Faith is supposed to produce works just like food produces energy to act (James 2:22, 26). We are to act upon what we hear.
So how are you exercising your faith? You study the Word of God—what evidence does your life produce of this? How are you applying what you learn? What spiritual disciplines are you practicing? Which choices are moving you toward God—and which are drawing you away?
Expand your horizons. The world of a baby is very small, comprised of a few people, minimal knowledge, and limited ability. But the older he or she grows, the more the world expands: They learn to make friends, meet strangers, and become aware of a world of people they may never meet. Concrete concepts are mastered; abstracts are introduced. Facts are learned; new ideas are considered. They learn to crawl…to run…to ride a bike…to drive a car.
Again what is true physically is true spiritually: Our awareness of the world around us and our ability to interact with it should also be expanding. How? The same way we do physically. Imitate those more mature than you and experiment with ways to serve. Be willing to try a wide variety of activities. Read widely. Think deeply. Ask plenty of questions. Listen to others. Give yourself permission to live fully—the good and the bad. With each experience, your perception of the world will grow a little broader.
Keep your expectations reasonable. You can’t expect a child to mature into an adult overnight. An infant won’t act like a teenager. Likewise you must start with where you are now spiritually. Not where you would like to be. Not where you should be. But where you are now.
So step back and examine your life. Which age do you most closely resemble? Are you a helpless infant, unable to do anything for yourself? Or a child full of curiosity and absorbing everything around her? Maybe you’re a teenager, developing personal abilities. Wherever you find yourself, focus on growing toward the next stage of maturity.

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