This just in from our global online tribe: I put in a lot of effort to grow spiritually but my faith is stagnant, especially during the COVID-19. Doesn’t God see my effort?
This is a powerful question that produces a scary answer.
Effort can be an imposter; even a fraud; always a chameleon; sometimes a saboteur.
Effort does not earn points.
Yes, everything falls apart WITHOUT effort. But spiritual maturity 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 in that TRUTH and paying attention to what happens.
Then we repeat the process…
- Identify God’s TRUTH.
- 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 Christ-likeness in our life.
Our OUTWARD-FACING EFFORTS to grow spiritually 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.
All of these positive things do not, by themselves, produce spiritual maturity.
I used to say that spiritual maturity is rarely about effort. Now I say that it is NEVER is about effort and time—by themselves.
Even though we do not reach the goal of full spiritual maturity until we get to heaven, there is plenty of room to deepen our relationship with Christ.
I ask God to help me look at spiritual maturity through his lens of life transformation and never in terms of “transactional effort.”
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Are you putting in the EFFORT to grow spiritually? If so, is that effort based on producing fruit as evidence?
“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.” Col. 3:9-10