Mark Affleck


January 7, 2021
Spiritual Growth

This just in from a young man living in Scotland and a member of our global online tribe of over 1 Million followers: “Some days I wonder if abiding in Jesus is a better goal than growing spiritually. I’ve experienced much joy abiding in Jesus without the pressure to grow spiritually. But I’m still confused. Can you help?”
This is a compelling question because taking our focus (and pressure) off the specific goal of GROWING our faith and putting it on ABIDING has many benefits. That’s because spiritual growth does not come from us, it comes from God.
ABIDING is just one action step, of many, that we take walking on SURRENDER ROAD. The more we surrender, the more we obey. The more we obey, the more we grow.
Putting the GROWTH horse in front of the SURRENDER cart turns it into a transactional box screaming for a check mark. It is foolish to wait until we are spiritually mature before we ABIDE and surrender. We never reach full spiritually maturity. Growing in Christ is a life-long quest.
But ABIDING in Christ produces FRUIT (John 15:4, 15:6). And that fruit produces GROWTH…the proof of our faith.
It is dangerous to turn spiritual growth into a “self-improvement” exercise. That happens when we make growing in Christ the FRONT-END goal of our faith walk. But make no mistake, growing in Christ is not only wonderful and powerful, it is mandated by God (see below 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:18).
We should never walk away from God’s call for our life-time commitment to grow in Christ. But we must always remember that spiritual growth does not come from us, it comes from GOD.
That’s why it is so powerful to look at ABIDING “ahead” of spiritual growth.
Subordinating our focus on spiritual growth, at the front-end, turns our focus on RELEASING CONTROL of our life to God and ABIDING in Christ. It puts the spotlight on glorifying Christ, not slapping our back for growing. And it, ironically, produces spiritual growth in us.
We are not looking to be an expert in the Bible and prayer and worship. We are trying to ABIDE in Christ (Jeremiah 9:24).
I ask God to help me remember that spiritual growth comes from HIM–not me. I know that because HE gets the glory when it happens, not me. I ask him to keep me from looking for evidence of my spiritual growth in real time and make me content to see it–to whatever level he determines–down the road of life when I can compare who I was and what I did before with who I am and what I do today.
When was the last time you focused specifically on ABIDING in Christ?
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
“Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” 1 Timothy 4:7
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

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