My wife and I are very amateur gardeners. Over the years, we have dabbled with growing potted plants, vegetables, roses, and other flowers. To be honest, we are not very good at it. This month we moved to a new house, and in the process of packing and moving all of our belongings, we took inventory of the many potted plants in our back yard. We noticed that while the plants were getting plenty of water and sunshine, most were not healthy, nor were they growing.
While talking with a friend who has much more experience, we learned that the soil was the issue. The plants needed new soil because they weren't getting the nutrients necessary for the roots to go deep. The vitality of the plant is in direct proportion to the health of the soil. We had been preoccupied with the visible part of the plant with no consideration of the hidden part.
The same can be true of our spiritual lives, and it reveals why some Christians are not growing. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." The soil, the inner (unseen) part of us, must be healthy to have spiritual growth.
What gets in the way of us growing spiritually? Consider these possibilities.
Spiritual growth is the process of becoming more mature in one's relationship with Jesus Christ. Someone who is growing spiritually will become more and more like Christ. Our spiritual growth begins when we come to faith in Christ and should continue until we enter Christ's presence after this life.
How do we prepare the soil of our hearts for optimum spiritual growth? Three things are essential.
A humble heart acknowledges our desperate need for God. We recognize that pride keeps us from experiencing the presence and power of God. Pride closes the door to spiritual growth, but humility opens the door of your life to a healthy spiritual life. If our roots are planted in the soil of humility, the result will be the fruit of the Spirit.
James 4:6 - "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Let me ask you a question. How is your spiritual appetite?
Our hunger determines our pursuit. We all know the power of appetite. It gets satisfied every time. To grow spiritually, we need a hunger for God. What amazing is that the more we pursue a deeper relationship with God, the more our appetite grows. It seems the more we experience in God, the more our desire for Him increases.
I love this quote from Pastor John Piper - "Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives — whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God."
Jeremiah 29:3 - "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
The most practical and powerful way for us to move towards Christ-like maturity is to establish habits that promote spiritual growth. Most often, we call these habits "spiritual disciplines." It is the consistent, faithful, and intentional pursuit of Christ that develops our character and makes us like Jesus. We must pay close attention to our spiritual lives because no one accidentally grows spiritually.
What beneficial habits are you developing in your life? Determine to do them daily. We can't change our lives until we change what we do every day. Remember Paul's words in 1 Timothy 4:7-8:
"Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily training is just slightly beneficial, but godliness is beneficial for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
Are you not growing spiritually? Check your roots. Make sure you are growing in the soil of humility, hunger, and habits. These three ingredients produce a healthy and growing spiritual life. Let's tend the garden for optimum spiritual growth. As we abide in Jesus, he produces the fruit He desires us to bear.
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