Do you know how to grow spiritually? Many people think they do. Many people are wrong.
The classic Sunday School song warbles, “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” Yay! But the Bible doesn’t actually say that.
What the Bible says about how to grow spiritually
Let’s go to the source.
“See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin” (Matthew 6:28).
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” (Mark 4:26,27).
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (I Corinthians 3:6).
“Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Corinthians 3:7).
“The whole body (church), supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Colossians 2:19).
Spiritual growth comes from God, not self effort.
This isn’t what I learned in Sunday School. Or in church. Or anywhere, come to think of it.
Things that make you go, “Hmmmmm…..” Right?
Now: God involves us in our spiritual growth, true. We’re given a small role to play. And Bible Study and prayer do factor in. But spiritual disciplines don’t cause growth. They can enhance it when God so chooses, but they can also kill our growth when we’re using them to take charge of our own spiritual development.
You may want to read that statement again. I’ll just reprint it.
Spiritual disciplines don’t cause growth. They can enhance it when God so chooses, but they can also kill our growth when we’re using them to take charge of our own spiritual development.
I call this mentality “devotional correctness.”
Taking a bird’s eye view of spiritual growth in scripture, we see that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), so spiritual growth is about growing our faith. We also know that “faith without works is dead,” (James 2:26), so growing in faith will involve some kind of action.
How to grow spiritually, that is the question.
It’s simple, really. To grow in faith, you have to find the edge of your faith… and take another step. Reflect on the stories of the Bible where God invited people into larger stories and you’ll see this illustrated a thousand times—Abraham, Joshua, Rahab, Peter…
It might be a physical step—or equally real, a spiritual one.
It might be a step into an attribute of God you believe in your head but struggle with on an emotional level.
It might be a step into the book of John.
It might be a step into sacrificial generosity.
It might be a step into witness.
It might be a step into prayer for healing.
It might be a step into integrity.
It might be a step into forgiveness.
God wants us to grow. And it’s up to him. What he’s doing, if we’re paying attention, is bringing us to the fragile edges of our faith and inviting us into our personal frontier. And it never stops. Faith isn’t about living on the edge, but stepping over it. That’s how to grow spiritually.
If we take those steps, we grow. If we don’t take those steps, it doesn’t matter how much scripture we read or how many prayers we pray or how long we fast and worship and jump up and down on our heads for the kingdom to come.
Here’s a spiritual growth prayer, now that you know how to grow spiritually:
Lord Jesus, show me the edge of my faith today, and help me to step over it with your power.
I’d love to hear your comments.