Growing Christians aren’t advancing in their spiritual walk by accident.
Spiritual maturity comes to those who understand the concept of a “Christian walk.” Just the word picture itself tells you it takes steps, deliberate steps, to move forward in victory and spiritual growth. Just like a healthy person needs water, food, and air, a healthy spiritual life comes to those who understand what you need to be spiritually healthy. Think about the following “spiritual needs” list and see what is going well and what may be missing in your walk to spiritual maturity.
You Need To Connect With God’s Mission Field
Throughout scripture you see God identifying three key people groups, and it’s clear He wants His children to pay close attention to them as well. They are the fatherless, the widows and the poor. When you think about your “ministry involvement” remember that anything you are doing for the Lord is important, but don’t ignore “the least of these” He has placed around you. Your connection to God’s mission field will do wonders for accelerating your own heart for God.
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. – Matthew 9:12
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27
You Need To Practice Repentance
Being a good Christian is not about achieving perfection. As much as you or I may desire to do everything right, we just can’t. There are days we will blow it. A mature, growing Christian learns to seek God’s forgiveness regularly. Be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to prove to God and others that you are always right. Be humble enough to acknowledge sins and quickly ask for forgiveness. Admitting you are wrong, you have sinned, or that you made a mistake doesn’t make you a weaker Christian… it makes you a stronger one.
I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. – Psalm 32:5
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:2
He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. – Proverbs 28:13
You Need To Be a Giver, Not a Taker
The Apostle Paul had the hands of a leatherman! He pointed this out in his message to his converts in Ephesus. He was giving his final piece of “spiritual advice” after spending three years with them, deeply investing in their spiritual development day and night. So what was the comment about his hands? What was the point?
Many people who came to Christ in Ephesus were people of means. They had nice things, very nice things! They wore fancy clothes, they had lots of money and looked great in public. Paul was a tentmaker. He said, “I have coveted no one’s gold or apparel, these hands have provided for my necessities.” Paul was reinforcing a powerful truth. God has provided everything we have. Some people experience a wealth of resources, Paul neither condemned nor coveted other Christian’s material success. He was very comfortable with people who had much and people who had little.
Imagine this scene. Paul reminded them of this final truth. Our inheritance is coming in eternity. It is so much more blessed to give than to receive. He prayed with them. They walked him to his ship. Everyone cried. They knew they would likely never see him again and their heart was filled with this reality, “I’m going to miss this man’s teaching, I’m going to miss his influence and friendship.”
“Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn every one night and day with tears. “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship. – Acts 20:31-38
You Need Fellowship and Community
The culture of true friendship is in danger of collapsing. Everyone sees it, everyone feels it, but so many ignore the obvious solution. The revival of true friendship could be the beginning of a spiritual revival among us. People are hurting, lonely and feel disconnected. Where do people look for the example of genuine friendship?
They look to the Christian community. We are the ones who experienced the unconditional love of God through His Son Jesus Christ. We are those who genuinely are commissioned to love those around us. It starts with loving our family well and it spills over into all our friendships.
Be generous with your words, actions, and even your resources toward others. Notice the last phrase of today’s passage. Be especially supportive “to the necessity of the saints.” Many among us have needs, but those who have sacrificed for their service to God in ministry are mentioned here as the ones who are often forgotten. Be a dear friend to them, care for them and be a partner in the calling of God in their life.
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
You Need Compassion
It may be hard to wrap your mind around this, but have you ever considered that God is happy that some of His children are blessed with an abundance of wealth and resources, and He is also pleased that some of His children are poor? Why would God be okay with this “inequity?” In God’s sovereign plan, He knows what He is doing. One of the most powerful and spiritual acts of humanity is compassion. Having extra places you in a position to be compassionate, and when you are compassionate, your heart is aligned with God’s heart.
Those who live without an abundance of material resources learn to trust God in a unique way and model this trust to those who have more than they need. Each of God’s children, whatever their status by the world’s measure, encourages the other to abide in Him.
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? I John 3:17
You Need To Trust the Bible Fully
The Bible isn’t just any other book. It is God’s word to us and it has the power to transform your heart, your mind, and soul. Don’t fall into the trap of ignoring this spiritual resource God has given you. Turn to it regularly as your source of truth, wisdom, and guidance.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
You Need To Love God More Than Material Things
Sometimes people think God is against material possessions. He’s not. It’s okay to have nice things. God blesses ingenuity, innovation, and hard work. Take whatever level of success God has given you and use it in ways that would please Him. Don’t love things, love God and love people instead. All the possessions you have are going to fade away, but your investment in your relationship with God and your impact on others will be rewarded for all eternity.
Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Rev 3:17-19