Have you ever pondered on how spiritually fit or mature you are? The bible gives us indicators of how we ought to live as Christians. But somewhere down the line, we get confused on what it means to mature in Christ or be spiritually fit.
Perhaps you are one of those who believe that because you attend church is evidence of your maturity or an indicator of your spiritual development. But this is simply not so. It’s like saying that because you go to your local gym means you will have a svelte, toned and fit body even though all you do there is catch up with friends, sit in the sauna and just goof around without actually doing any tangible exercises. And even if you do some exercise, it may not get you to your desired goal.
Please hear me, I believe church plays a vital role in our Christian development. When you find a great church, the teaching and programmes offered become a pivotal foundation for your growth. However, you have to build on this. Simply put, if you only rely on the sermons, praise, worship, etc that takes place on a Sunday, without continuing this outside of church, you may find yourself not developing (if at all) as much as you could. So, if you want an in-depth relationship with God, there is a price to pay and you have to be willing to exercise your spiritual muscles. Just like a physical workout, no one can do this for you.
I remember when I studied for a Masters degree programme years ago; our tutor told us candidly on the first day that if we only studied what they taught us, that would result in us getting a final grade of a ‘pass’ (if you are lucky). But to get a ‘merit’ or ‘distinction’ required a whole load of extra work on our part. To put it simply, we were told we needed to spend an additional 3 hours for each hour we were taught!
Now that was what I had to do to get the grade I desired. Now putting it in a spiritual context, what do you need to do to develop your spiritual muscles and become spiritually fit? What price are you willing to pay for your growth and development in God? How much extra investment are you willing make? Might you need to attend bible classes/school, attend midweek services, join your home group, get a prayer partner and the like? Or maybe, you need to become more diligent in your quiet time, reading and studying of the Bible, meditating, praying, fasting, and much more? Only thou knowest!
Remember the Kingdom of Heaven or even your spiritual development is not about attaining certain ‘grades’ in God. However, it is about a gradual progression to knowing the Father intimately. None of us will ever get to the point where we can say we have arrived in God and sit back. Therefore, we ought to adopt Pauls notion in Philippians 3:12 where we keep working toward that day when we will finally be all that Jesus saved us for and wants us to be. We can emulate the people of Berea who studied the Word of God continuously, for themselves, in addition to what Paul and Silas taught them (Acts 17:10-12). So, you may want to set yourself a personal challenge such as studying a certain number of verses or chapters in a specified time, extending your prayer time (quality versus quantity though!), read more books to develop you spiritually and perhaps cut out distractions such the TV, Internet, etc. As with all goals, it is important to periodically check how you are doing against your intentions and make changes when necessary.
Finally, remember, it is about quality not quantity. I remember going to a gym for several months and whilst I felt fitter and could spend longer periods on cardio vascular machines, when I did a follow-up assessment months later, nothing much had changed in my gym statistics. This was annoying because I attended the gym almost everyday. But my instructor shared a few words of wisdom. Firstly, get an assessment done frequently. Secondly, change your routine to work other muscle groups. Finally, watch what you do outside of the gym (e.g. eating, resting, sleeping, etc). What an insight!
So what about you? What will you start doing today? How will you measure your growth (e.g. the fruits of the spirit - Galatians 5:16-26, the contents of your mind - Philippians 4: 8-9, scripture memory, an increased prayer life)? Set yourself a goal and ask God to help you grow in Him.