In the first post of this Spiritual Growth series, I offered 4 stages of a Christian’s growth, namely: Seeing the Way, Hearing Him, Grasping God’s Greatness, and Walking in the Spirit. In this post I’ll offer another perspective of spiritual growth. As well, I’ll help you answer the question raised in the title for yourself.
In writing on the “progression of spiritual growth”, John MacArthur feels that 1 John 2:12-14 is ‘essential’ scripture. In these verses, there are 3 levels of spiritual growth: Little children, young men, and fathers. The scripture he draws a Christian’s attention to states:
12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one (NIV)
One’s ‘spiritual age’, as these verses are referring to, is not the same as one’s chronological age. A 69-year old man may be at a relatively low level of spiritual growth, while a 19-year old man may be a spiritual ‘father’ – with the deeds and character of a Christian twice his age! I witnessed a young woman recently whose spiritual essence literally took my breath away. No more than 25, this young lady (at her aunt’s funeral) spoke eloquently about the “perfect perspective of Jesus Christ”. Again, the spiritual growth of a ‘father’ can be had by Christians of ALL ages – not just those who ‘have a few gray hairs on their head’.
As MacArthur states in his spiritual growth article:
It is one thing to know that you belong to the family of God, and to know the Word of God, but it is another thing to know God intimately. It is one thing to know the Bible, but it’s another thing to know the God behind the Bible. Spiritual growth progresses from knowing that you are a Christian, to knowing the Word of God, to knowing God Himself.
So how do you walk in the spirit (Stage 4) like a ‘father’?
Clearly, getting past the ‘little child’ level of growth involves you getting to know the word of God well. Get to know your Bible. Hank Hanegraaff’s statement, on Listening to God (see prior post), reflects how a Christian’s walk can change them . . . forever.
Before I became a Christian, reading the Bible was like reading someone else’s mail. Now, however, the Scriptures have become 66 love letters from God, addressed specifically to me.
- Bible reading and bible study (group & solo) are key habits of a Christian seeking to grow spiritually.
Beyond that, what should one do?
- Follow the ‘two great commandments’ (Matthew 22)
- Strive to be Christ-like in your demeanor (Galatians 5, fruit of the Spirit)
As Rick Warren remarks, regarding the qualities of Jesus:
If you want to know what Christ-like character looks like, a good place to start is the list of nine character qualities Paul enumerates in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (NIV).
The fruit of the Spirit is a perfect picture of Christ. He embodied all nine qualities. If you’re going to develop Christ-like character, you, too, must have these qualities in your life.
In the book of Matthew, Christians are ‘commanded’ to love the Lord and love their neighbors.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
Spiritual growth is surely an ongoing process.
- Does anyone exhibit all the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ qualities effortlessly always? If so, I’d love to meet him or her. (smile) Is anyone a Perfect Doer? I sense the Lord’s looking for his children to be faithful, not perfect. One should strive to keep growing spiritually; one should surely avoid spiritually standing still – or going backwards!
In the final post in this series next week I will focus on the 2nd Stage of Spiritual Growth (Hearing Him). I truly believe that hearing him availeth much!