Requirements for Spiritual Growth

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Patty Barona is the Spanish speaking pastor at Iglesia del Nazareno Nuevo Comienzo in Exeter. She is from Ecuador and has been serving in the Central Valley for the last 20 years and in Exeter currently.

Every true Christian needs to keep growing in their spiritual life: to please God and to be useful in his work. (2 Peter 3:18). Here are some essential elements for helping that spiritual growth to take place.

The first step is a personal relationship with Jesus, your salvation (John 3:5-7). This is the beginning: a new spiritual birth that will result in the development of Christian character, a change in the way of thinking and attitudes in all areas of the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit will be actively involved in this transformation if there is the willingness in every heart.

The next requirement is the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). We cannot think about spiritual growth if we do not open God’s Word daily. No human can feel good for very long with just one meal a week. The same thing happens in our spiritual life. The Word of God is the food that transforms our lives, shapes our character, and motivates us to be obedient. God expects each of his children to be nourished by the daily reading of the Scriptures. Here is everything we need to be spiritually nourished by Him.

Sharing with one another is also a requirement for spiritual growth, (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We all need Christian friends with whom we can share our struggles and also the good moments of life. We need this to grow spiritually. The support, help and love of the Church encourages us in our times of need. Salvation opens the door to new relationships within our community of faith. This is part of God’s plan for each believer. Christianity cannot be lived and developed alone.

Although no one likes difficult and painful moments in life, suffering (James 1:2-4) is one of God’s best instruments to make us mature. During those difficult seasons of life we can get to know God better, as a father and faithful friend. We also can develop the character of Christ in our lives as we gain a better understanding of who God is. It teaches us great spiritual lessons at the end of the process.

Enlargement (Matthew 5:41) is another important requirement. Every time you feel as if God is asking something of you, to go beyond your abilities and your strength, we are being enlarged. Although experiences in this area may be difficult, this process will bring great growth to our spiritual life. Very often God will ask us to go one step further, to go beyond comfort and what we are used to doing. God will be pushing us forward to stimulate us to grow. It may be through serving others in some area, or perhaps some task that we may not like. If we learn to take a step of obedience in the midst of these circumstances, we will discover that we have a God greater than our own limitations. In this way we will be giving way to the growth of our character, and seeing the image of Jesus in us.

Time alone with God (Isaiah 30:15) is an element with often neglect. Our spiritual life periodically needs moments of rest and rejuvenation. That is why times alone are essential in our Christian life. Spending regular time alone with God feeds our faith and our personal relationship with Him. When we close the door to the noise of the world outside and have moments of stillness with our Heavenly Father, our lives will be greatly impacted by His presence.

Service (Matthew 20: 26-27) is another area that is so necessary in our spiritual growth. It’s getting involved in works of service in the local Church and towards our brothers and sisters in our community. As Christians we are imitators of Jesus, and his service was excellent. Our own personal agendas cannot control our lives, because we would be too busy to ever find time to serve others. Believers who long to grow in their spiritual lives will seek opportunities to serve God and others whenever possible.

What is the price of growth? In the Christian life, growth should be the norm, not the exception. The Lord does not force us to mature, and the process is not automatic. What’s required is to have the desire and disposition that we find in each of the points mentioned above. Mature believers have their senses exercised by the practice of truth in their lives. If we are diligent in obedience to God’s commands, over time we will enjoy the fruits of growth and spiritual maturity.

Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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