Mark Affleck


January 12, 2022
Spiritual Growth

THIS JUST IN FROM OUR GLOBAL ONLINE TRIBE: I have been putting in a lot of effort lately to be spiritually disciplined and grow my faith, but it’s like I’m running in place and making absolutely no progress. Doesn’t God see my effort?

This is a powerful question that produces a thought-provoking and “scary” answer that should stop us in our tracks.

Effort does not earn points and we cannot become SPIRITUALLY DISCIPLINED by “pressing a button” like our faith was a PEZ candy dispenser.

Yes, everything falls apart WITHOUT effort. But SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE does not come from effort ALONE.

We grow spiritually when our effort is aimed at identifying TRUTH from God’s Word that can be applied in our life. Praying about that TRUTH. Discerning what God says about that TRUTH. Then stepping out to APPLY that TRUTH in our life and pay attention to what happens (James 1:22-25).

Then we repeat the process…

Identify God’s TRUTH in his Word.

Pray and seek God’s discernment.

Move forward and see what happens.

Go back to God and look for more TRUTH.

We determine if the process is working by checking to see if there are signs of Jesus in our life.

Our EFFORT to be SPIRITUALLY DISCIPLINED and grow our faith must be connected to God’s TRUTH and the goal of emulating Jesus.

That means not memorizing scripture to show off. Not feeling guilty about missing an event at church. Not trying to only read Christian books and listen to Christian music.

Those positive things do not, by themselves, produce SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE. That’s why I referred to it earlier as a form of “PEZ DISPENSER FAITH.”

I used to say that SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE is rarely about effort. Now I say it is NEVER about effort—ALONE.

Even though we do not reach the goal of full SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE and maturity until we get to heaven, there is plenty of room to deepen our relationship with Christ while we’re walking on this planet in this life.

But we cannot just “flip a switch” like we’re pushing out another PEZ CANDY.

I ask God to help me look at SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE through his lens of life transformation and never in terms of “transactional effort.”


Does your SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE go beyond EFFORT and show signs of JESUS?

“You have put off the old self with its HABITS and have put on the new self…which God is continually renewing in His own image, to bring you to a full knowledge of Himself.”  Colossians 3:9-10

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25

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