A coworker asked me: “How can we measure spiritual growth?” It’s an interesting question because it brings up the tension between faith and works.
I can read my Bible a lot more and do kind things for others without actually growing spiritually. I can learn more about God without ever really drawing close to him. I can measure the things I do but how do I measure my heart?
In the book of James he talked about the fact that works will naturally flow out of faith and so to some extent works can still be a legitimate guide.
We need to ask ourselves if we’re becoming more dependent on God. Do the things of this world hold less and less attraction for me? Is my natural inclination becoming more about serving others and less about me? Do I delight in spending tyme with God?
For me, it is when I look back on a season in my life and think thing over…”Oh My God! What made me act like that? Thank God I don’t anymore…or man.” Or when I do something during the day and think “When did I start doing that? I’m so glad you revealed that to me Lord.”
Often we find that some Christian are measuring the wrong things. They tend to measure their day-to-day activities, rather than their progress over tyme. Many homes have a closet with little measurement marks on the back of it. The door becomes a place where the growth of the children is tracked across tyme inch by inch.
What is the unit of measuring spiritual growth? Is it nothing less then Christlike characters? As we become more loving, honorable, courageous, integrity- filled people (like the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22), we know that spiritual growth in taken place inch by inch. My intent with this post is to encourage you to measure outputs, not inputs when evaluating your spiritual life.
We all want to be different, but we don’t want to change. Our attempts at spiritual growth are consistently sabotaged by our own efforts of trying vs. training. We never allow ourselves get to the root of the problem. We think we know what we’re supposed to do, but we’re not quite sure who we’re supposed to be on the other side of transformation
If you measure only inputs of your spiritual growth…such as…
- How many tymes you read your Bible
- How many minutes a day you pray
- How many people you invite to church
You’ll often feel like a failure in your spiritual life.
If you measure the outputs of your spiritual growth…such as…
- Are you becoming more patient?
- Are you learning to love people that are hard to love?
- Do you desire to be more like Christ today than you once desired?
“It is much harder to put numbers on intangibles, but deep down you will usually know the answer. When I try to measure the inputs of my faith, I grow disappointed, because it seems I can never do enough. When I measure the outputs, the results of my faith, I can truly determine if I am growing to be more like Christ. Thankfully, I can see huge progress over the course of my life.”
Discipline helps develop spiritual fruit, and I believe in practicing private disciplines that help grow your faith (inputs), but the discipline is not the goal, the fruit is the goal (outputs). You can discern if you are really growing spiritually. Jesus didn’t say His followers would be known by the number of disciplines they can keep. Jesus said we would be known by our fruit.
Never settle for anything less than the manifestation of the “original.” You don’t need to be like Jesus today; you need exactly Jesus today, and you have exactly Jesus living within you. So why not plug into His life? A baby grows because it eats and only eats because it’s hungry. Yet, if you feed the baby food that has no nutritional value, you can make the hunger go away without ever contributing to the baby’s growth.
Spiritually speaking, you can’t create hunger. Either you have it or you don’t. But if you feed yourself the wrong food—warmed over, self-powered spiritual activity—your hunger will go away without feeding the maturity you desire. Your Christian life will live full but not satisfied.
Only when you allow the Spirit to initiate the work, and then fulfill the work by plugging into the power source of Christ will you experience satisfaction. Today, ask the Spirit to come be your “why” and Jesus your “how.” Then, watch your spiritual life begin to grow. Trying to p l e a s e everyone can cause us to feel overwhelmed! When we put too much value on the opinions, judgments, and needs of others — attempting to “measure-up” to their standards — life can get out of control! There is simply no way we will ever be able to satisfy everyone.
There is One true, solid, and firm measuring stick that we need to aim to please, God. When we seek His will and His plan for our lives; when we set out to put a SMILE on His face — we can find peace and comfort despite the noise we hear from those around us. I understand that there are tymes when we need to consider what others are saying and suggesting, but take those things prayerfully to the Lord…
seek Him first, His wisdom, His understanding
…then take the appropriate action.
The kicker for me is the fear that rules when I use the wrong measuring stick and how dark my vision becomes. Its now clear to me to stay focusing on the “one” method for measuring. I so grateful for the people God has blessed me with in my life who can help me SEE what I’m missing at tymes. HE is ALWAYS near…
How many measuring sticks are you trying to “measure-up” to? How can you focus on the ONE that truly counts?