Personal spiritual growth isn’t as easy as you might think. Becoming a beautiful fierce warrior for Christ doesn’t just happen. Maybe you’ve known Jesus since childhood, and now you’re plugged into a biblical and healthy church, but if you’ve only plopped into the pew and are waiting for the miracle of maturity to descend, I can tell you—it won’t be happenin’!
To think we can reach spiritual maturity by just waiting for it to take place, is about as silly as wanting to travel from Arkansas to Michigan by just sitting in a parked car. If I get in the car (salvation/conversion) and just wait—I’m in the driver’s seat, have my map (and a GPS!), full tank of gas, I’m really excited, lots of desire—but I never turn the key or back out of my drive (do the hard work of actually driving the car toward my destination) I will never make it to Michigan!
I remember, as a young woman with a passion for Christ—so wanting to be conformed to His image, to look like Christ—but continually being discouraged by my consistent failure. My harsh tones, angry outbursts, petty immaturity, selfishness, self-pity, and general all around ugliness indicated I was not growing into the beautiful warrior for Christ I so desired to be. It took awhile, but eventually I learned that . . .
Sincere desire is not enough—spiritual maturity comes through dying.
When I say “dying” I’m referring to the whole Romans 12 idea of sacrifice. Becoming a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1–2) means just that. It is sacrificing my self-love and cultivating a greater love for Christ than love for ME. That means applying His truth to the hard choices of daily life. My goal—or the destination I had in mind as a young woman—was spiritual maturity. My desire was to grow up to look like Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
But I wasn’t going to reach that destination by being an inactive participant in the living sacrifice process.
Being a living sacrifice means that when I’m tempted to put myself first, I STOP and apply the Word to the situation. I press into spiritual maturity.
When I’m tempted to have a pity-party . . .
I need to STOP and ask God for grace to keep my eyes fixed on Christ and His response to the cross, and remind myself that He is working all things out for good. When I focus on Him and His love . . . it increases my love for Him and that love busts up the ol’ pity party.
When I want to demand things go my way . . .
I need to STOP and ask God for grace to let go of things that don’t matter and seek to bless those I’m struggling with. When I focus on the eternal instead of ME . . . it protects me from the colossal error of thinking I deserve to have the universe revolve around ME.
When I want to run from my responsibilities . . .
In each of the examples above, I’ve embedded Scripture that can be applied to the situation. But in order to have the Word handy to serve as a framework for my actions—I must be intentionally growing into a “fierce woman of the Word” (like we saw last week). But if I only know the Word but don’t apply it and obey it—spiritual maturity will only be a desire, never a reality!