Spiritual Growth: Do you have the motivation and the focus?

Spiritual Growth: Do you have the motivation and the focus?
During the beginning weeks of kindergarten my teacher measured our height and continued to track our progress throughout the year. Much to my chagrin, I was the second tallest kid in my class. I wanted to be the tallest kid in the class; however, Rita Foreman held the sought after title until sometime in the fourth grade. And to my delight, my grandfather also kept track of my growth on the doorpost to his basement. I was always excited about getting measured, either at school or by grandpa, because I wanted to see how much I was growing. I showed my motivation to grow by eating vegetables and drinking milk because my parents and grandparents said it would help. I was focused on growing because I was always aware of my progress.
When I was a child, I knew I was growing physically and it was normal to grow taller and gain weight. Likewise, as a Christian, we should also see evidence that we are growing spiritually and realize our need to continue to grow. This begs the question. What is spiritual growth? Dr. John MacArthur defines spiritual growth as “simply matching my practice with my position. Now, my position in Christ is perfect: I am complete in Him. I have all things that pertain to life and godliness. I have received all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. But I need to progress in my practical life in a way that is commensurate with my position.”  Many others have defined spiritual growth along the lines of “the process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.”
Besides defining spiritual growth, I wish there was an easy way, like a mark on a doorpost, to measure my spiritual growth. How about you? In any case, we have some clues from scripture. The Apostle Paul describes the progression of maturity in his letter to the church in Colossae. COL 1:9-10“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” The writer of Hebrews also provides some insight.  HE 5:12-14 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” The Apostle Peter’s comments on the subject are equally important. He writes, 1 PE 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation . . .”
Whether we want to achieve in academics, sports, music or the work place, it takes the proper motivation and focus. The same is true with growing spiritually. So what is our motivation to grow spiritually? Why would we pray, read the Bible, study alone and in groups, listen intently to sermons and put what we learn into practice?  Why would we deny ourselves and follow Jesus at any and all cost (Luke 9:23)? It comes down to one primary motivation. What is it? It is loving God with all of your beingDT 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And not only love Him, but love Him first and foremost.
However, motivation is not the only thing you need to pave the road to spiritual growth. You must also have a focus. In fact, a laser focus. So what is your focus on? MacArthur writes, “The focus of the believer's life is to glorify God--to understand the fullness of His person and His glory. That focus then becomes a magnet that draws the believer past the point of knowing to Whom he belongs, to knowing what he believes, and finally to knowing the One he believes in. That is the thrust of all spiritual maturity.” The Apostle Peter confirms this assertion, 2 PE 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” I can confidently testify from experience, with the proper motivation and focus, you simply won’t grow spiritually. And beyond that, you won’t make an impact for the kingdom of God.
As I remember back to my childhood, I realize what I saw as important varied as did my motivation and focus. I went from wanting to be the tallest to being the best baseball player to the best basketball player to the best football player and so on. After becoming a Christian at the age of 17, I struggled with seeing the need to grow spiritually at first. After all, my time was taken up with important things like sports, family, friends and work. I guess I thought I’d grow as much as I needed to by attending a worship service on Sunday. But then, I realized I wasn’t growing. Instead, I was sliding back into my old ways. And then, soon after graduation from high school, during my first military assignment, I began the journey of developing a proper motivation and focus that continues to pave the way for spiritual growth. Do you have the proper motivation and focus to grow spiritually?
A Work in Progress,
Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment