Do you realize how many Christians live out their entire lives in a spiritually weakened condition? Christians who exercise the personal discipline required to become strong in Christ are becoming very rare! Would you dare to become one of the rare ones?
If I Intend to Grow Strong in Christ I Have to Develop Some Skills
If I am serious about growing strong in Christ, there are many skills I need to develop.
I need to learn how to study the Bible.
I need to learn how to pray more effectively.
I need to learn how to lovingly help someone come to a personal relationship with Christ.
I need to learn how to use my spiritual gift effectively.
I need to learn how to restore a brother or sister who has fallen into sin.
I need to learn how to do effective spiritual warfare.
I need to learn how to be effective salt and light in the cultural war that is raging.
I need to learn how to help and brother or sister who is going through a fiery trial.
I need to learn how to answer the tough questions that tend to come up over and over.
I need to learn how to worship and praise God more fully.
I need to learn what parts of God’s Word to hide in my heart–and get it done.
And the list goes on.
You will probably realize that most people who go by the label “Christian” never develop these skills.
Most Christians feel pretty comfortable in their Christian life–even though it is very shallow. They’ve listened to a lot of sermons. They’ve been in a lot of small group Bible studies. They’ve listened to a lot of Christian music. They’ve had a lot of daily devotions. But they have not developed a great deal of spiritual maturity and strength.
Most don’t do it. But a few have done it! What’s the difference?
In a word: discipline
Discipline has to do with the way we spend our time. It means spending time doing things that will lead to spiritual growth, even when our natural desire is to sleep, watch TV, play, hang out with friends, etc.
Many people get it in their heads that if it isn’t fun, they don’t need to do it. What they neglect to consider is that often what is “fun” in the short run isn’t really much “fun” in the long run!
But if we are going to be seriously committed to spiritual growth, there is no way around it. We must commit some serious time to the task. It means making decisions, in advance, about how we’re going to do it.
It will never happen (as many older Christians unfortunately bear witness to) if we just hope that someday we’ll find time to do it. We have to make time now. That means making careful and intentional decisions about things we are going to choose not to do, so that we will have time periods to devote to spiritual growth.
We may have to choose not to stay up late, so we can get up early and devote some morning time to spiritual growth.
We may have to choose not to turn on the TV, so we can make time for Bible study.
We may have to choose not to go hang out with friends, so we can have time to learn how to play a musical instrument or to learn to sing new songs in order to worship God more fully.
We’re talking lifestyle here
You have known dieters who are hugely overweight. They have great intentions. They go on a diet that everyone knows is impossible to maintain through the years. So they lose a few pounds, become discouraged, and eventually gain it back. It’s so common. It may have happened to you!
That’s why we have to make decisions that can be maintained through the years! That’s true of eating and exercise. It’s also true for spiritual growth. A little spurt of conviction and Bible study doesn’t do much good in the long run, unless it becomes a part of our lifestyle.
Change is not easy! It’s difficult.
By the way–that’s why it’s called spiritual discipline. And that’s why the people who do it are called disciples.
Are you one? Will you be one? It’s your decision!