What is Spiritual Growth?

What is Spiritual Growth?
Table of Contents

All of us follow a different path on our journey to the Kingdom of Heaven. Some of us have been raised in Christian families and have been introduced to the Word of God from an early age. Some of us have found God later in life. Every spiritual journey is unique, but every spiritual journey entails spiritual growth, the process by which, having opened our hearts to God, we draw closer to Him. You’ll find plenty of ‘How to’ and ‘essential steps’ guides to spiritual growth online but there is no single recipe; submit to the wisdom of God and He will guide you.

What does the Bible say about Spiritual Growth?

Let us begin with the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 13. Jesus is preaching by the side of a lake but the crowds are so large that he has to board a boat in order that they may hear him. He tells the crowd the parable of the sower. Later, he explains the meaning of the parable to his disciples.

‘When anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth, choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:19-23

Jesus is talking about the conditions for spiritual growth and he explains it to the people in terms of a seed growing, a metaphor that is as relevant to us today, as it was on the day that Jesus spoke. Hearing the word of God, if that hearing is just a passive act like having the radio on in the background, is not enough, you will fall into sin. If your faith is not sincere it will wither, if you do not submit entirely to God then you have no faith. Jesus makes it absolutely clear: the key to spiritual growth is ‘understanding’, and understanding is not instant enlightenment, it is something for which we have to strive. Saint Paul had an epiphany on the road to Damascus, but he understood that spiritual growth requires a continual ‘pressing on’ which he likens the striving of an athlete running a race.

‘Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 3:13-14

What are the keys to Spiritual Growth?

‘For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to your goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self control, perseverance, and to perseverance godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection and to mutual affection, love.’ 2 Peter 1:5-7

Our faith is a constant work in progress, as we move from a life of sin toward virtue. Do not imagine that the facets of spiritual growth, which Peter lays before us, are consecutive, we must strive continually to develop all of them.

What are examples of Spiritual Growth?

Don’t expect certificates or congratulatory ceremonies, don’t long for the accolades of your peers: you will feel your spiritual growth through your conversations with God, through twice daily prayer and meditation, through Bible study and journaling, through your practice of Christ-like qualities, through your service to others, through your generosity and thankfulness, through your trust in God’s promises. Know yourself, discipline yourself and push yourself to understand and enact the Word of God.

‘As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the Word in order that by it you may grow into salvation.’ 1 Peter 2:2

The Word of God is all the nourishment we need for spiritual growth.


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