As a subscriber of this blog, you’re clearly interested in growing in Jesus Christ.
But how do you measure if you’re really growing and making spiritual progress?
Let me tell you emphatically that it’s not by how much knowledge you’ve gained.
Indeed, an increasing knowledge of the Lord is certainly a basis for spiritual growth. But knowledge that’s not applied is little more than arm-chair philosophy and bloodless theory.
That said, there are a number of indicators by which to measure whether or not you’re growing in the Spirit, becoming more like Christ, or whether you’re remaining stagnant or even regressing in the flesh.
I’m speaking of transformation, here.
Here are three clear indicators that reveal whether or not Christ is gaining more ground in your life or whether you’re fooling yourself.
There are more than these three, of course, but these are the ones on my heart to share today.
You’re making spiritual progress if . . .
1) Before you reply to someone, you take time to ensure that you’re replying to them in Jesus Christ — which means that you reply according to Matthew 7:12.
Put another way, you reply to others the same way you would want them to reply to you if the roles were reversed.
This means responding with kindness instead of reacting in the flesh.
It means keeping an open mind and thinking the best of the other person.
It means laying aside any carnal reactions like anger, jealousy, or malice, and putting those to death before you respond.
Since you’re reading this blog post, you’re part of the digital world and you no doubt have email. You may even be on social media.
This principle applies big league to those modes of communication.
If you’re responding to others in a way that you don’t wish to be treated, then you’re in the flesh. Plain and simple. And Jesus Christ hasn’t gained as much ground in you as you may think.
That said, mistakes happen, but heart-felt apologies are what separates sheep from black sheep. 😉
2) If you’re attacked, criticized, or misunderstood, you don’t return fire.
This is a long subject, and I’ve addressed it before many times, but those who are carrying the spirit of the Lamb do not respond in kind when they are insulted, unjustly criticized, or misrepresented.
They don’t return evil for evil. They don’t descend into the mud or get down in the gutter nor engage in WWE-styled smackdowns, even when provoked.
Like their Lord, they take the high road.
Put differently, they understand the cross. And they have an instinct for it.
The carnal, the babes who are still on milk, and those who are in the flesh know nothing of this aspect of Christ.
3) You stop judging the motives and intention of others, but instead, you ask them questions with an open mind and heart if something concerns you.
And you go to them directly with your questions.
Judging motives looks like this: “You wrote this, you said that, you did this because . . .
By uttering statements like that, you’ve just put yourself on the throne of God.
Only the Lord can see the hearts of mortals. Not you or me.
Love thinks no evil, but always thinks the best, Paul says.
Consequently, if something looks “off” to you, lead with a question directly to the person in question instead of making an accusation.
“Hey Bill, when you said . . . did . . . or wrote . . ., it gave me the impression that . . . But I could be completely wrong because I don’t know your heart. Can you tell me why you said/did/wrote that?”
You would want to be treated the same way, right?
Rigggghhtttt . . .
And we’re back to Matthew 7:12, the classic description of how the life of Jesus Christ operates and what it looks like when someone is living by that life.
A common thread
One of the common threads that ties these three indicators together is our reaction to others.
While we cannot control what happens to us or what people do, we can take ownership over our reactions to them.
When a person is in their flesh, they tend to OVER-react and react selfishly.
When they are in the Spirit, their reaction is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. Where Christ has gained ground in us, we exhibit a Jesus-reaction more and more.
My encouragement: Bring these three issues before the Lord and do business with Him over them.
The good news is that repentance still works and God still honors it. 🙂
It’s about progress, not perfection.
A new video
Speaking of spiritual growth, my friend Brandon Miller created this new video. Take a look at let me know what you think. It’s a little over 1 minute.
If you can’t see the video embedded above, watch it here.