The third principle of spiritual growth is that it is a process that takes place from the inside out. God begins cleaning house not by painting the outside, but by cleaning the inside first. Even during the days of Jesus there were the scribes and Pharisees who put more of an accent on the outwardly appearance than they did on the inward part. To the world, the seemed as pious and righteous men, but Jesus who saw their inner heart called them hypocrites, comparing them to whitewashed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Spiritual growth implies an inward transformation, and if no such transformation has taken place, than we have neither grown nor matured in God. God’s work of spiritual restoration begins in the hearts of men, not in their closet. He judges the heart first, not the apparel, and it would be wise for us as His children to do likewise.
Deuteronomy 6:4-6, ‘Hear O Israel: ‘The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.”
The fourth principle of spiritual growth is that it covers every aspect of our lives. We must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and all our might. God does not deal in half measures, He will not accept anything less than our all, and this is something He will not quibble over or make concessions on.
‘Well, Lord, I will love you with half my heart, and three quarters of my soul, and two thirds of my might.’
Not going to happen! Unacceptable! Serving God is not a hobby, it is not something we do on Sunday mornings, it is not something we get to when everything else is done, and we have nothing left to do, it is what we are, the servants of the most high God, and it is something that we are in perpetuity.
Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Many believers treat their faith in Christ like a coat they can put on and take off whenever they so choose. Some keep the coat on only as long as they are in church, then hang it up on the rack until the next service rolls around. Whether in their personal lives, in business dealings, in conduct or speech, Jesus is nowhere to be found, among those who treat their faith like something they can put on hold, but during church service, they’re there clapping their hands and stomping their feet with the rest of the congregation. Our faith in Christ is not some disposable thing we can neglect except for one day per week, it is something permanent and perpetual that grows in us on a daily basis, it is something we must dedicatee our entire lives, and our entire beings to, otherwise it is all for naught.
The last principle of spiritual growth is that spiritual growth is all the more significant within the context of suffering and hardship. I know nobody wants to hear it, I realize that we would all prefer to go to heaven a bed of roses accompanied by the sound of cherubim playing harps, but there are spiritual benefits to hardships and difficulties that far outweigh the momentary discomfort we might experience while enduring them.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-5, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.”
During the time of this writing, the church of Thessalonica was undergoing some severe persecution. Paul however did not write to them and say ‘so sorry to hear that you are being persecuted for your faith, maybe you should tone it down a tad’, what he wrote to them was the fact that he was boasting to other churches of God of their patience and faith during their time of persecution and tribulation. Paul saw their faith growing exceedingly, and due to their level of spiritual growth and maturity, they were able to endure.
It was Jesus who forewarned us that in this world we would have tribulation, suffering, troubles and persecutions. He said these things to prepare us for the inevitability of opposition, the inevitability of persecution, and the inevitability of hardships. If we are to remain faithful to the call of Christ, if we are to love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls than tribulation and persecution are unavoidable. What we know however, and what gives us great courage and boldness is that within these trials, in the midst of the persecution, our faith will grow exceedingly, our spiritual man will mature, and we will grow in God, and bear much fruit, all for the glory of His kingdom.
Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
I realize to some these scripture passages might seem out of place, especially if all you’ve been fed during the past few years is ‘prosperity, blessing, tolerance, acceptance, and independence’.
This is why it is important for us as believers to start growing in God, and understanding all of Him and not just part of Him. Too many today preach a one dimensional God, wherein all that He is, is love and nothing more, encouraging the sheep to roam about wherever they please, do as they please, and still get an all access pass to heaven. When a man has been proven, he will receive the crown of life, and not a second before. If we are called to endure for the sake of Christ then consider it a blessing, and a grace, for to you it has been granted, it has been bestowed, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. I know why I write these things, and other than reminding you that it is a grace to suffer for the sake of Christ, all I can do is implore you to grow in God today, right now, and not put it off any longer. The hour is upon us wherein even the most seasoned of warriors, and the most mature of believers will have their mettle tested, and their resolve pushed to its limits. What then will become of the babes? What then will become of those who still remain in spiritual infancy refusing to grow?
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.
P.S. As most of you may have heard already, Rev. David Wilkerson of Times Square Church has gone on to his eternal reward in heaven. I can't help but wonder if God is calling home His generals, those that have been on the front lines for decades upon decades, as an act of mercy and grace to spare them from what is about to come upon the earth. My heart weeps, as do the hearts of many today at the passing of Rev. Wilkerson, but we are still here, and while we are here may we redeem the time, and be about our Father's business with greater fervor than ever before. The old guard is passing into eternity; where is the new guard that ought to be standing in the gap and taking their place? This among many other things is what is weighing on my heart this gloomy morning. May we run our race as faithfully as those who came before us, that we might receive the selfsame reward for our efforts!