Most of us have an idea in our minds of what spiritual growth is and what it isn’t. Sometimes, our ideas are limited to our own experiences or preconceptions, and we don’t really branch out much farther than that.
That was definitely the case for me as a young Christian, but thankfully, as I grew and matured in my faith, I came to see that there are actually many ways to grow spiritually, and there are also certain key elements of spiritual growth that will help the maturing process.
There are so many of these key elements, but I’d like to share three that were really powerful for me and made the biggest impact on my spiritual growth, so here they are.
1. Calling out to God about anything and everything.
So often, we only pray over the big things that come along in life. We don’t seek God on the smaller, seemingly insignificant things. Yet just as there’s nothing too big for God, there’s also nothing too small for Him either.
Not only that, but He wants to hear from us. It took me a good while to get it through my head that my prayers weren’t boring or bothering God. He’s my Heavenly Father; He created me, loves me, and is delighted whenever I come to Him in prayer, and as a loving Father, He’s always ready with whatever I need. In fact, did you know He’s already got the answers to our prayers before we even pray them; He’s just waiting for us to seek Him and ask! It took some time for me to wrap my head around that one, too!
Some verses that have encouraged me in this area are:
“...the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.” - Isaiah 30:18
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” - Jeremiah 33:3
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” - James 1:5
2. Intentionally cultivating my fruitfulness and giftedness.
When we aren’t allowing the Holy Spirit to develop the fruit of the Spirit within us, our spiritual growth is obviously hindered. I’m sure we all know the fruits of the Spirit, but as a quick refresher:
“...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” - Galatians 5:22-23
I’m still learning to recognize the times when the Lord is trying to develop the fruit of the Spirit within me. Many times, He uses challenging situations to do this, and I usually just want to get out of those situations as quickly and painlessly as possible. For example, when situations arise that require patience, I become very frustrated, I huff and puff and whine all the way through them instead of being still and resting in the knowledge that He is God and He’s in control (Psalm 46:10).
However, when I intentionally set my mind on allowing the Lord to grow me through the situation, everything changes. I suddenly find myself with a deeper sense of peace, not because the situation has changed, but because I know the Lord is at work and I can see the ways He’s giving me grace to face the circumstances. I also see how He’s growing me, strengthening me, and taking care of me.
In addition to fruitfulness, sometimes, we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to fully develop our spiritual gifts, and sometimes, we don’t even know what our own individual gifts are! The Holy Spirit gives gifts to each of us, and the purpose of these gifts is to glorify God and edify our brothers and sisters in Christ, so if we aren’t using our gifts, we’re missing huge opportunities for growth and service.
When I finally embraced my own spiritual gifts and stopped wishing I had different gifts, my spiritual growth skyrocketed because I was allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me in the way He knew best instead of working against Him by trying to do things I wasn’t gifted for. Serving in areas of giftedness released all the stress I had been carrying from trying to serve in other ways, and it also opened up opportunities for others who were gifted in those areas to step in and use their gifts. I discovered a new level of joy and excitement in using my gifts that I hadn’t known before, and I learned to say “no” without guilt or shame to opportunities that were not suited for my gifts.
If you need a refresher on the gifts of the Spirit, check out these passages: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:10-11.
3. Recognizing I’ve already got the victory in Christ.
Many of us live defeated lives. When we start growing spiritually, calling out to God about everything, and living fruitful lives in our giftedness, the enemy will attack and we’ll face opposition. This is when many Christians begin to lose their confidence and strength; they view their lives and ministries as hopeless battles. That’s why it’s so crucial that we learn to recognize our position in Christ.
“...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
This has been one of the biggest areas of growth for me, and it’s still an area where I need even more growth. I’ve learned that I already have the victory through Christ, and the knowledge and assurance of that victory affects (or should affect) the way I live my day-to-day life.
This means when I am faced with a situation, I can react with panic, worry, and stress, or I can respond with prayer, peace, and a deep assurance of God’s presence in the situation. This type of response takes time, effort, and much reliance on the Holy Spirit, but it makes all the difference in our spiritual growth, so it’s absolutely crucial for each of us as Christians to develop the mindset of victory in Christ.
This is why the Helmet of Salvation is mentioned in Ephesians 6 as a part of our spiritual armor; the enemy will attack our minds with all kinds of lies, and if we don’t have a true knowledge or understanding of our position as victors in Christ, we will fall for his lies each and every time. We don’t have to believe his lies; we don’t have to live in fear, doubt, or panic; and we most definitely do not have to live as slaves to our sins.
“...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…” - Ephesians 6:10-18
“...sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” - Romans 6:14
I hope my learnings on spiritual growth have been helpful. Always lean in to whatever He’s teaching you; the more we resist, the longer our growth will be delayed. The sooner we allow Him to work, the sooner we will grow and experience Him on a whole new level.
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