- - - - - - - - - -
Recently I came across an article titled "6 Signs of Spiritual Growth" . . . and I couldn't stop thinking about the six "signs" listed. While not necessarily bad in and of themselves (new belief systems, new career, self-help, etc.), there was no mention of Jesus or the Scriptures or true spiritual growth according to the Word. And so, may I present another list (by no means exhaustive and in no particular order): 7 Signs of a Life-with-Jesus.
1) More Fruit!
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:22-24
Life with Jesus means life with the Spirit, and the Spirit produces fruit, in ever-increasing measure. I love how this verse says that those who belong to Jesus have crucified the desires/passions of the sinful nature and instead are filled with love and peace and kindness and self-control. How many times a day do we tell our children to show kindness and love like the fruit of the Spirit! (And by default it's a good reminder for ourselves...)
2) Renewed Mind
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:1-2
Because of God's mercy to us, we offer our whole selves back to Him. Rather than conforming to the pattern this world prizes and pursues, we are renewed in our minds. Reading Scripture, prayer, fellowship with other believers--all of this helps to change our thinking to be driven by Truth (instead of feelings, whims, peer pressure or fleeting pleasures). We are TRANSFORMED, and that is no small word: revolutionized, reconstructed, renewed.
3) Commitment to the Commission
"Then Jesus came to them and said, '...Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" Matthew 28:18-20
This is the commission Jesus gave to the disciples during His final moments on earth. There are four commands: Go to all nations, Make disciples, Baptize, and Teach them to obey. This is the mission we inherit as followers of Jesus. It is specific, focused and imperative. (Definition of imperative: absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable.) Believers need to look no further for a life goal or passion or dream. Here it is, clear as day in red letters.
4) Him >, Us <
"He [Jesus] must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
This is a simple one to understand (much harder to execute). John the Baptist is quoted above. May his words be our anthem: forgetting self to glorify Jesus. Which is connected to the next sign . . .
5) Attitude of Humility
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..." Philippians 2:3-5 (further study on this passage here)
Life with Jesus means we begin to live like Jesus, and Jesus lived in humility, as a servant. We can have no greater ambition than to pattern our lives after Him: doing nothing out of selfishness or vanity, considering others' needs more important than our own, and looking to the interests of others. As the Holy Spirit begins to work in our hearts, He begins to change our attitudes. Oh to be truly humble at heart!
6) Sacrificial Living (i.e. pick up your cross)
"If anyone would come after Me [Jesus], he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" Mark 8:34-36
It seems like an odd rhetorical question (of course I don't want to forfeit my soul!) and yet how many of us strive our whole existence to gain the whole world, frantically trying to save our own lives. Yet, a life lived with Jesus and for the Gospel is a life denied, a life laid down, a life lost. Jesus says, Take up your cross (live sacrificially, as I did) and follow Me. In the process, we gain everything: Jesus, salvation, eternity.
7) Love for One Another
"My [Jesus'] command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You [God the Father] sent Me [Jesus] and have loved them even as You have loved Me." John 17:23
Jesus' command: Love each other like I love you (unconditional, genuine, sacrificial) and Jesus' prayer: May they be in complete unity so that the world will know the truth. This is perhaps the most difficult "sign" of them all.
What other signs of a life growing with Jesus can you think of?
Looking for further study on perhaps why you're not maturing in the faith? This is a good listen.
Reasons We Resist Becoming Mature: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 - by Chuck Swindol
"The desire to grow up is a natural drive within the physical life, but spiritually we seem to drag our heels. Why? What is it that causes us to resist becoming adult?"