Yippee - it’s Happy New Year! And who wants to grow spiritually in 2017? I know I do, but I also know that to expect growth, and make progress in my faith, I can’t operate on autopilot. I won’t grow spiritually if I don’t deliberately work at a plan to get there and one that requires diligence and effort on my part. It’s important to remember that our Christian maturity doesn’t depend solely on our own strength and effort. If that’s all you have - you will fail every time.
The truth is- God has imparted new life in you in Christ! The moment you put faith in Jesus, He supplies you everything you need to live a godly lifestyle. It’s the life of Christ in you that gives you the motivation and the power to change spiritually. Isn’t that great news? He’s also given you all His precious promises to equip you for life and godliness. Amen! I need them! You need them, too! That means spiritual growth involves God’s resources as the foundation, but also your own personal responsibility to bring in diligence so that you may grow. So, are you ready to set some spiritual goals for the New Year? 2 Peter 1:3-8 listed below has some very valuable teaching and wise counsel to help us do that very thing:
Growing in Faith
3 By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To grow in godliness we need to progress in these seven areas: Spiritual growth is a life long process
Moral excellence – We are to grow in the character qualities that marked Jesus. Just as He always obeyed the Father and lived to glorify Him, so should we. It’s the moral courage to live your faith, to do what’s right.
Knowledge – We gain the knowledge of how God wants us to live through His Word. As we put this knowledge to use, it helps us to grow to know Jesus Christ better.
Self-control – The virtue of one who masters his/her desires and passions especially his/her sensual appetites
Patient endurance - This refers to the ability to endure hardship and distress in the midst of suffering; you stay the course.
Godliness – Respect of God and His will, seeking to please God in everything.
Brotherly affection – This especially refers to the love that we are to show to others in the family of God.
Love – This is the Greek, agape, which is a self-sacrificing commitment to seek the highest good of the one loved.
I like how John Piper says it best: “Forward! Forward! Forward! if we render like this: "as you have obtained faith in Christ and stand in it, now apply yourself diligently to advance in moral excellence; and as you stand in that, do not be satisfied but press on to increase your knowledge of God's will; and as you stand in that, do not be satisfied but be diligent to enlarge your capacities of self-control and mastery of your passions; and as you stand in that, don't be satisfied but cultivate every form of patience and serenity; and in that let devoutness and piety and sweet love to God flourish; and in that strive to kindle your affection for other believers; and in and through it all grow in love to all men." In other words: Forward! Forward! Press On! Advance! Grow!
Happy New Year, Karen