Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Beginnings of Growth

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." -Psalm 139:23-24

Spiritual growth is an interesting concept. Most Christians would agree that they need spiritual growth. And most of us acknowledge that we are not fully mature spiritually. In fact, when we take a look deep inside our hearts, we have to admit that we are desperately far from where we often perceive ourselves to be.

Spiritual growth can also be somewhat elusive. How does one grow spiritually? Is there a formula to follow? Are there a set of clearly defined steps that, when taken systematically, lead to maturity? Or is spiritual growth more fluid, adaptive to your situation and needs? Can you grow spiritually on your own? Does it happen automatically? Is it a steady growth or rapid growth? These are valid questions.

These two verses in Psalm 139 strike me as the starting place for spiritual growth. The first step is a desire--a request: search me. The psalmist asks God to search his heart. This is a sincere request and an acknowledgement of imperfection. The psalmist lays his heart before the Lord openly and honestly acknowledging sinfulness and the need for change. "I'm not where I need to be Lord. My heart is wicked. My thoughts are inconsistent. I don't measure up."

In order to grow, we must desire to grow. Its not something automatic, as if we simply float along through life moving towards maturity. No, spiritual growth happens when we first desire it and ask God for it. We must humble ourselves. We must admit we need growth. Pride would have us close up our hearts from God's searching. Pride would have us hide the wickedness and sin that we harbor inside. This hinders and stops us from growing. Humility lays everything out on the table before God. Humility says, "Search me, O God."

Finally, in order to grow, we must pray for God's leading. "lead me in the way everlasting." God's initiative is required for our growth. God must bring us along in the process. We can't run ahead of God and expect to grow. We must follow his leading. Again, this requires humility. You cannot lead yourself to your own spiritual maturity. You must trust God's leading and follow him.

Can you see the starting place of growth? Desire it, ask God for it, and then follow his leading into the way everlasting.

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