If our financial investments fail to grow, we look for new ways to ‘grow’ our money. Shouldn’t we feel all the more strongly about our spiritual life?
Everyone of us should be looking to enlarge – not just maintain – our spiritual life. There is little-to-no growth if we “rest on our spiritual laurels”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The numerical order of the following suggestions is not in order of importance. Application of each principle is equally important for those who truly desire to improve their relationship with the Creator and enlarge their spiritual life.
1) Concentrate on finding needs and fulfilling them. Volunteer your time and your talents. Continue sowing seeds in the lives of others. This gives God something to multiply back to you in the form of your own needs. (cf. Luke 6:38)
“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” –Romans 15:1-2 (MSG)
2) Set aside time to study God’s Word and pray. The Bible contains God’s answers for every problem you are facing (cf. Psalm 119:105). Remember, effectual, fervent prayer brings results.
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” –James 5:16 (MSG)
3) Let go of the past. You cannot make yesterday any better today. It is a waste of time to try and it keeps you from moving forward to receive new blessings.(cf. Lamentations 3:19-31)
“Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” –Luke 9:62 (MSG)
4) Take a daily inventory of your priorities and motives. Putting God first changes your perspective and your values. Take an honest look back at the end of each day to see where you fell short and what you need to work on. That way you will be less likely to repeat your mistakes, especially if you ask God for guidance every morning.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, you must make every effort to supplement your faith with moral character, your moral character with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with endurance, your endurance with godliness, your godliness with brotherly kindness, and your brotherly kindness with love.
For if you possess these qualities and they continue to increase among you, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in attaining a full knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the person who lacks these qualities is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing that he has received from his past sins.
So then, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election certain, for if you keep on doing this you will never fail.” –2 Peter 1:3-10 (ISV)
5) Guard against the ‘tendency to escape’. Denying your situation, blaming others for your problems, withdrawing from people (isolating), oversleeping, using mind and/or mood-altering substances and indulging in self-pity will only make things worse, never better.
“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.
Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.” –Galatians 5:16-25 (MSG)
6) Learn to receive. Never be afraid to ask for support, help, and advice when necessary. No one of us can resist temptation, make wise decisions, and get back up when we get knocked down, entirely on our own. If we don’t ask God for help, we won’t stand a chance. Remember, Jesus constantly sought his Father’s leading. Instead of trying to make it on his own, he depended heavily on the Father and the Holy Spirit. Learn to accept the help that comes your way. Allow others to bless you in your time of need. In so doing, you bless them in return.
“This is the confidence that we have in him: if we ask for anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to our requests, we can be sure that we have what we ask him for.” –1 John 5:14-15 (ISV)
7) Count your blessings, not your losses. Give thanks to God no matter the circumstances. Thank him for all your blessings – even the ones that don’t seem like a blessing at the moment.
“In everything be thankful, because this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ISV)
“Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Ephesians 5:20 (GW)
8) It’s okay to laugh. Laughter is one of God’s natural medicines to relieve stress and tension. Even King Solomon noted there is a time to weep and a time to laugh (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:4) Just be on guard as to what it is you are laughing about. Remember, course jesting is out of place for followers of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:3-6).
“A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” –Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)
9) Never give up, never give in. There will be times when we will be tempted to give up and give in to our circumstances. Sometimes the trouble will come from outside forces seeking to influence us; but most of the time our greatest struggles will be against the issues within our own heart. Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to stand strong; and when we are no longer able to stand on our own, then we are to turn to God and make our stand in his power and might.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33 (NLT)
10) If it comes between you and God, get rid of it. Anytime we allow anything to take our focus off God, we shut ourselves off from his light (cf. 1 John 1:5) Our greatest need is our need for God. When our greatest desire lines up with our greatest need, then we are truly living in loving obedience to ‘Our Father in heaven’.
“No one can serve two masters. The person will hate one master and love the other, or will follow one master and refuse to follow the other. You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.
So I tell you, don’t worry about the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes. Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. And you know that you are worth much more than the birds. You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it.
And why do you worry about clothes? Look at how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon with his riches was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the fire. So you can be even more sure that God will clothe you. Don’t have so little faith! Don’t worry and say, ’What will we eat?’ or ’What will we drink?’ or ’What will we wear?’ The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. The thing you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what God wants. Then all these other things you need will be given to you.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:24-34 (NCV)