I spent time and energy into developing my career, my body and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of my life. How do do i actively pursue spiritual growth?

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I spent time and energy into developing my career, my body and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of my life. How do do i actively pursue spiritual growth?

I spent time and energy into developing my career, my body and relationships, but often neglect the spiritual dimension of my life. How do do i actively pursue spiritual growth?

In Order to Pursue Spiritual Maturity, We Must Have the Right Attitude—a Holy Discontent
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12)

What is the right attitude we must have in order to pursue maturity? Paul says, “not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect.” Paul said, “I am not there yet.” Paul had a holy discontent. This is a very important attitude to develop if we are going to reach maturity.

Application Question: Why is it important to have the right attitude—a holy discontent—in order to pursue spiritual maturity?

  1. Having the right attitude is important to spur growth.

Paul was probably the greatest Christian to ever live—he wrote almost half of the New Testament. His ministry led to the Gentile world being reached, and yet, he saw himself having not fully attained Christlikeness. This disposition is true of every great athlete. They are never content with their successes. And therefore, they continue to work hard to become better and to win more championships. Be careful of spiritual contentment. Many Christians are not growing because they are content with their attainments. They feel that they know the Bible enough, pray enough, serve enough, and therefore, they have ceased to progress spiritually. Spiritual contentment is the antithesis of spiritual growth; while a holy discontent is the catalyst for spiritual growth.

Are you content with your spiritual life?

  1. Having the right attitude is important to deliver us from depression and discouragement when we fail.

Personally I struggle with perfectionism; meaning, I have an overriding feeling that I must always do things as perfect as possible. And when I have failed God, especially as a young Christian, this would often lead to bouts of discouragement and depression. Satan would at times attack me with great condemnation over my failures and even make me feel like I shouldn’t read my Bible or go to church. However, when a great athlete fails, it makes him work even harder. Michael Jordan would have a bad game where he only scored ten points, and then, the next game he would score fifty. Failures make great athletes work even harder. Similarly, Paul said, “Not that I have already become perfect, but I press.” His imperfection inspired him to seek to know God even more, instead of causing him to quit or give up. It should be that way in our spiritual life as well. Let your spiritual failures make you pursue Christ even more, instead of allowing them to encourage you to quit or settle for less than Christlikeness.

  1. Having the right attitude is important to not be led astray into false teachings that emphasize “perfectionism”.

Some scholars believe Paul was indirectly attacking the belief of the Judaizers when he said that he had not been “made perfect.” It was common in those days for pious Jews to believe they could perfectly keep the law. When the rich man approached Christ about how to gain eternal life, Christ told him to keep the law. The rich man replied that he had kept it since his youth (Matt 19:16-20). Christ told him that perfectly keeping the law was enough for salvation so he could see that he had not kept the law and that he needed a savior. However, the rich man believed he had kept the law as many pious Jews did. Maybe, the Judaizers thought that combining law-keeping with faith in Christ could take them to an even higher spiritual plane. If they could keep the law without him, how much more could they attain perfection with him? Kent Hughes said this, “Paul’s enemies claimed to have reached a state of perfection that made them possessors of all the blessings of salvation, in effect the arrival of Heaven itself. Heavenly perfection was theirs now, they argued.”2 However, perfection is not attainable on this side of heaven. It must be our continual pursuit, our continual endeavor, but we will not reach it until the second coming of Christ. Listen to what John the apostle said: “But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). We will never reach perfection on this side of heaven.

With that said, this belief in perfectionism has at times appeared throughout church history. Groups of Christians often from a Wesleyan background have taught that if they achieved a second work of the Holy Spirit after salvation, then instantaneously they could achieve holiness or perfection. Some even believe in the eradication of the sin nature. However, that was not Paul’s perspective. He said he had not achieved perfection. He also said in Romans 7 that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t do. He cried out, “who can save me from this body of sin” (v. 15-25). Also, perfectionism contradicts the rest of Scripture. John the apostle said this, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” he was not just denying perfectionism; he also was probably referring to a person being deceived about one’s salvation. The very theme of the book is assurance of salvation. He says in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Since meeting God in Scripture always is shown to create an awareness of sin, a person that thinks they have achieved perfection is probably deluded about his salvation. Isaiah saw God and cried out, “’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty’” (Isaiah 6:5). This man saw how grave his sin was when he met God. Peter, when convinced that Jesus was the messiah, said, “Away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). Paul the apostle calls himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). To truly know God means to keenly know one’s own sin. Therefore, to claim perfection is very dangerous; it might actually prove that one has never truly met God at all. Scripture vehemently denies the possibility of being perfect here on earth.

As mentioned, perfectionism is the antithesis of spiritual growth. If a person thinks they have attained perfection, then there is no reason to continue to grow and seek Christ. We must be aware of this teaching, and we must also be careful of living this out implicitly by being satisfied with our spiritual attainments.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness,and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Paul taught throughout the New Testament that when we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit. In this passage from 1 Corinthians, he demonstrates the difference between someone who has the mind of Christ versus someone who does not.

When you have a renewed mind in Christ, you are able to discern spiritual matters – to see the world through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

But here’s the truth: Just because you have the mind of Christ, doesn’t mean you’re automatically using it.

In the very next chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul reprimands the church in Corinth for being “people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” So basically, after telling them that they had the mind of Christ, he tells them they aren’t using it.

They weren’t actively pursuing a renewed mind, rather they were still thinking in the same way the world thinks.

In yesterday’s post, we learned about three God-given tools we have been equipped with to renew our minds. Now let’s take a look at how to practically put those same tools into use.

We fill our minds with the truth of God’s Word.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know God’s Word and to know it well. It’s not enough to simply read a little bit here and there, it needs to be in us. We need to hide His Word in our hearts. We need to be ready to combat the lies of the enemy when he tries to plant seeds of doubt in our minds.

If we fill our minds with the truth, there will be no room left for the enemy’s lies.

We lean on each other and build each other up as we grow in faith.
We actively pursue a renewed mind when we build relationships with our “siblings.” We not only keep each other accountable, but we sharpen and challenge one another to go deeper.

It’s also important that we strive to live at peace with one another. Paul talks about unity in faith countless times throughout the New Testament. We can’t be at odds with one another and expect to grow as the body of Christ. Disunity weakens the body, while unforgiveness and bitterness weaken us individually.

When it comes to the mind, bitterness and offense always get in the way of spiritual growth.

We give the reigns to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to transform our thinking.
Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to do His job? In order to grow, we have to give Him control. He needs to take the wheel and lead us where He wants us to go. It’s impossible to grow spiritually by our own doing; true spiritual growth only occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’ll be honest… it’s easy to say things like “give the Holy Spirit control.” But in practice, giving Him complete control can be difficult. I think of Peter who stepped out in faith and walked on water with Jesus. He not only had to be brave enough to step out of the boat, but he had to maintain his faith even when everything around him said, “You’re going to sink.”

The best part of that story, however, is that even though he made the mistake of taking his eyes off of Jesus for a moment, Jesus was still faithful. Even when we feel weak, if we surrender our weakness to God, He is faithful to pick us up. He gives us the strength we need to endure anything that comes our way, and He will remind us as many times as it takes to keep our focus on Him.

  1. I regularly pray for and invite friends and others to church.
    …go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19 NLT

  2. I actively participate in a small group.
    Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another… Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

  3. I regularly read my Bible and pray.
    Like newborn babies hungry for milk, you should want the pure teaching that feeds your spirit. With it you can grow up and be saved. 1 Peter 2:2 ERV

  4. I serve in a ministry at church where I am needed and comfortable.
    …He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church. Ephesians 4:11-13 MSG

  5. I worship at church on the Sundays I am in town.
    On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people… Acts 20:7 NIV84

  6. I give a regular offering in a God-honoring way at church.
    On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income… 1 Corinthians 16:2 NIV84

  7. I obey—I do the next right thing—what is my next step?
    Knowing the correct password — saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance — isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience — doing what my Father wills. Matthew 7:21-22 MSG

My answer is probably very simple, but I spend time in prayer, not just when I need it, but to praise the Lord each day, ask for guidance throughout my day, sing and play songs of praise. Reading scripture in the mornings from a devotional magazine helps me to get my day started right. I like to read different articles that explain certain scriptures in depth. Sometimes getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are hard for me, but can help someone else. Whatever I do and say should be to honor and praise God and and His Son, Jesus Christ.

For me, it was gradual! As a child, I grew up in an agnostic home, but always felt the pull of God. My parents let my sister and I attend VBS and eventually AWANA at the local church. I loved it! As I grew into a teenager, I drifted away as many teenagers do. When I got married and had my son, I started to feel the pull again. I would attend church every once and a while, but in 2009 was called to a church ministry where adults would sponsor teenagers/young adults as they completed an internship at our church. From that point on, I grew to rely on God and seek out his Word more and more. We moved to a very new location that was hard on me and I learned to lean more on God for help and peace. This year, I took a year off of work and devoted a great deal of time to my faith, my relationship with God and my family. This year has been the big turning point, I would say. I spent a great deal of time in prayer groups, Bible studies, and talking to God about my worries. It made me see that he is a faithful God and he never leaves us. He’s always been there for me, even when I rebelled against him.

So, I think pursuing spiritual growth will be unique to each person. For me, it took time, some nudging from God, and some amazing Bible Studies and prayer groups! I’m not sure which faith you’re looking into, but here is a Listly link that has tons of great resources for Spiritual Growth if you need a jumping off point: 15 Free Courses in Apologetics You Can’t Miss | Listly List

Good luck, my friend!