I am an unabashed gym eavesdropper. This is really the only place where I shamelessly listen to people talking. Whether it is in the locker room, on the workout floor in the lobby or wherever: I listen. In one recent conversation I heard a couple of guys talking. The one guy was in his mid 50′s and the other guy, I’ll guess early 20′s. Both guys were in great shape. The older guy was telling the younger guy what he has been up to in terms of training. Apparently they hadn’t seen each other for some time and this guy was noticeably different. He explained how he changed his diet, got disciplined about weights, and didn’t try to go too fast. Over the last year and a half the guy has transformed.
As I listened to them I couldn’t help but notice the younger guy’s shock. He is knee-deep in the culture that demands instant results. He remarked of how amazed he was at the difference over time. In the end it was a proper plan, consistency of discipline, and time. The guy was a different guy.
I thought about how this illustrates something of the Christian’s struggle. We want instant maturity, knowledge, and wisdom. In God’s wisdom however, it doesn’t work like this. Far from being instant and overnight, spiritual growth is a life-long process. From a human perspective, it takes a proper plan, consistency of discipline and time.
If you want validation from experience here, go and ask mature, godly people what the secret is. I have had the opportunity to ask a number of such people, from people that would be labeled Christian “celebrities” to ordinary guys who are mature. What sticks out is the answer that is repeated when I ask them to tell me what has contributed to their spiritual “fitness” and maturity. Over and over again it is, “Prayer, Bible Reading, Regular Attendance to hearing the Word preached, Christian Fellowship, and reading good books.” It’s always the same thing. You will grow in maturity if you take a good plan, go after it with consistent discipline and then give it some time.
In the last 15 years 3 priorities have stuck with me. If you do these things and are in a church that preaches the Bible and emphasizes discipleship and fellowship then I have no doubt you will grow.
- Forbid that you go to bed at night without learning something new about God or having your heart freshly fascinated by him.
- Forbid that you go to bed at night without being able to identify a particular aspect of God’s blessing in that very day.
- Identify a particular subject in theology to study every year. Go get a Systematic Theology (Grudem or Horton are great for starters) and then pick a subject, say Bibliology for year 1. Then read the chapter on it and find other good books to learn and study from that year. Think about what your affections for God and his word would be like if in the next few years you read 5 good books on Biblilogy next year then 5 good books on Christology the next, then 5 good books on the Justification the next, then 5 good books God’s attributes the next. (Here is a link to some recommended reading)
Don’t try to microwave your growth or take some magic spiritual pill. There is no such thing. There is a plan. The plan takes discipline and time. I guarantee that if you faithfully get after it and adopt something like is outlined above you will grow. God the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God in the Child of God to make him strong in the grace of God. It’s just how it works.
There is no better day than today to start.