Hebrews 6:1 – “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God”
Hebrews 5:14 – “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
As I type from a coffee shop in Mississippi, there are four conversations going on around me about weight loss, healthy eating and gym memberships. Seems to be the topics of conversation this time every year as we move into a new calendar year and thoughts of a “new me” begin. Gyms will be full, healthy eating will happen and weight loss will start…and for some reason it seems to only last for a short season and then the tendency is to fall right back into the same routine.
As I thought about the conversations going on around me, the Lord reminded me how easily it is to fall back into a pattern that’s comfortable and does not produce spiritual growth. He reminded me that His desire for me is spiritual growth. He also reminded me that consistency to the spiritual disciplines is what produces the growth that He desires for my life.
Three things came to my mind as I tried to put these ideas into goals for 2017:
- Focus on the spiritual over the physical
Our tendency is to focus on what we think everyone looks at…our physical appearance. That’s why conversations this time of year are about eating healthy, weight loss and gym memberships are so prevalent. I’m reminded in I Samuel 16:7 that the Lord’s looks at my heart, not my outward appearance. The heart is the place of life and growth that needs attention every day. It is the place that is of greatest concern to our Lord. You cannot see your heart because it is not on the outside where everyone can see it. It is deep within your body longing for a deeper relationship with the God that formed you and made your heart for His place of residence in your life. Give your heart the focused attention it needs and do not get distracted by the world’s focus on the outside.
- Develop consistency
Consistency is critical for growth to take place. Find time DAILY to connect with God in prayer, scripture reading and implementation of the things that He teaches you as you spend time DAILY with the Lord. As the conversation went on about becoming healthier in 2017, one person involved reminded the people at the table that this is not a one or two day a week focus but a daily process that helps start new habits and a healthier person. You cannot skip a step or a day. You have to give your time, focus and energy to it. You have to make it an important part of your day. Everyone agreed. This is also true of what it takes to experience real spiritual growth in our lives in this new year.
- I need help!
This is not a journey that you need to try on your own. Having a “work out” partner helps tremendously. Left to yourself, you will skip a workout and eventually give up. We need the gentle nudge and encouragement of someone that believes in us and wants to see growth in all areas of our life. There is one other conversation going on around me right now that serves as a reminder about this point. The conversation is between a 25ish year old guy and an 18ish year old guy. They are debriefing the younger guys quiet time and talking about action steps from what he learned. The 25ish year old “mentor” is providing great insight and encouragement. It’s a beautiful reminder that the Lord places people in our lives for the purpose of helping us become more like Him! I have this kind of help in my life and I am thankful for the “work out” partners that provide the accountability and encouragement that I need to continue growing spiritually every day.
My prayer is that you will join me in setting goals and a plan for spiritual growth in 2017. Our Lord has promised that He will do His part if we will commit to doing what He has called us to do. His desire is to grow me and you! Maybe you will even find yourself in a coffee shop at the end of 2017 talking about the spiritual growth that has happened in your life. May the Lord bless you as you seek Him in this New Year.