Spiritual Growth in 2024
This morning, I was expressing, to God, my desire to experience some spiritual growth; to live my life in the spirit – a life where I’m Spirit-filled and led by the Spirit more than I am by my flesh (my carnal nature). All at once, I realized that the onus was on me. It’s not God’s responsibility to make me live a spiritual life; it’s mine. Jesus has given me the liberty to walk in the spirit and the Holy Spirit lives in me, but the choice is mine to take advantage of what He’s given me.
A clear example is last night. I wanted to do some cooking for the week and decided to take my laptop into the kitchen with me for some entertainment while I work. I had opened up Netflix on one tab and the thought occurred to me that I could (or should) listen to something spiritually edifying instead. I debated it briefly, then opened up YouTube and found an edifying discussion to listen to while cooking. The choice was mine what I was going to feed myself in those minutes. We always have a choice to feed either our spirit or our flesh.
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.Galatians 6:7-8 NLT
I’m not saying I won’t ever watch Netflix but I know that most of what I will watch there is for entertainment and feeds my flesh, reinforcing the culture of the world which is opposed to the culture of God’s kingdom. If I want to experience growth in spirituality, I have to choose to feed my spirit more than I feed my flesh. The degree to which I feed my spirit determines how healthy and strong my spirit man will be.
While this verse talks about giving, it states a principle that cuts across all facets of our lives –
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV
It seems self-explanatory but let me include an even more graphic translation –
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.NLT
We all have a fixed number of minutes each day and we have to be deliberate about how we use the time, with our eyes on the goal – Christlikeness. Those who are intentional about our physical well-being know that you can’t escape eating right and exercising. Likewise, to be spiritually healthy, we must feed our spirits with the pure word of God primarily by reading and studying the Bible. From the moment we get saved, just like physical newborns, we need milk for nourishment –
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation1 Peter 2:2 NIV
As we mature, we eat more solid food –
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4 NIV
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.Isaiah 55:2 NKJV
We exercise our spirits when we apply the truths we have learned in our daily lives. Daily spiritual exercise is crucial for our spiritual development.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”1 Timothy 4:8 NLT
As a woman in my 50s, I’ve come to value the benefits of what is called Strength Training, which is a more specific form of Strength Training. Resistance training is a broader term encompassing any exercise that uses resistance to work the muscles. Strength training focuses primarily on increasing muscle strength and power, using heavy weights. Just as the body develops strength by working against resistance, so also the spirit. The way to develop faith is to use the faith we currently have against resistance, not run away from resistance or challenges.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4 NIV
To try to avoid difficult circumstances or experiences in life is futile so it would do us good to find out what God has to say about Christian suffering and pain, and how to handle it.
As for me, this year and from now on, I’m determined to choose to invest in my spirit each chance I can get – to feed my spirit with God’s word and to face the challenges of life with God’s word. I know I won’t always make the right choice but because I’m conscious of it now, I expect to do better and experience spiritual growth. It’s a journey for us all and I hope you’re on board, too.
I recommend this video clip that I saw just this morning which aligned with what was on my mind.