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. 2 Peter 3:18 ESV
As I take my daily walk, I pass farm fields of sweet corn and soybeans. For the past few months, I’ve watched the fields transform from the time they were being prepared in the Spring, to the time the plants initially broke through the soil. Almost daily, I can see the plants, especially the corn, grow to the point that now, in late July, the corn is now well over my head with tassels on top flowing in the breeze.
Growth is something we hear about all of our lives. Who can’t remember a family member that you would see infrequently tell you “How you’ve grown!” We talk about athletes, such as baseball players, growing in their skills, proceeding from one level of the minor leagues to the next, until they finally make it to the major leagues. At work, we are often given growth goals to help us develop in our roles. We should always be in a growth mode, and that certainly includes our spiritual lives.
If you are a believer, there was a point when you were saved, which we can refer to as your justification. Justification is completely an act of God. We might call that monergism. We can’t save ourselves. Once we are saved, we begin a new phase, that of our Christian growth, or our sanctification, in which have a role to play along with the Holy Spirit. We might call this synergism. To use the corn analogy, man plants the seed but God gives the rain, the growth of the crop and hopefully a bounteous harvest. But how do we actually grow so that at the time of Jesus’ return we hear Him tell us ‘Well done, good and faithful servant”? (Matthew 25:23)
The Bible has much to say about our growth as believers. For example, Colossians 1:10 tells us:
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.
We grow, though not visibly as the sweet corn in the fields down the street from my home. We want to be growing so that we are not at the same place spiritually as we were last year at this time. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit who trains, teaches and transforms us.
Here are nine things, sometimes referred to as spiritual disciplines, that are a means to growing as a believer:
Bible Reading. It is important to be in the Word of God each day. I use and recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible for my reading and study. You can also listen to the audio version available on the free ESV Bible app.
Bible Study. Studying the Bible is very different from merely reading the Bible, and takes much more time and effort. I would recommend my wife Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold, to help you in learning how to study the Bible. It’s especially helpful if you will be in a teaching role.
Daily Devotional Reading. Daily devotional reading is an excellent way to supplement your Bible reading. A few of my favorite books to use for devotional reading are New Morning Mercies by Paul Tripp, Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon, Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett, Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith, and The Songs of Jesus by Tim and Kathy Keller. I also use Ligonier Ministries helpful magazine Tabletalk as a part of my devotional reading.
Attend Worship Services. Attending worship services each Sunday is essential for Christian growth. This includes not only sitting under good teaching, but singing praises to God, and meeting with fellow believers and giving. (Hebrews 10:25).
Participate in a Small Group. This could be a Bible study group, or it could be like we have in our church where we meet on Sunday evenings to discuss that morning’s sermon. Wonderful relationships are formed and strengthened as you consistently pray for each other.
Prayer. Prayer is an important part of the Christian’s life. There are many different ways to pray. I like to use the acronym ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication – to organize my prayers. While you may have one specific time and place that you pray each day, we should pray throughout the day (in the car, on a walk, between meetings, etc.).
Scripture Memorization. This is a helpful discipline that will help you bring to mind scripture verses in conversation and prayer.
Read Good Books. A helpful discipline is to read good books in a variety of genres – theology, Christian Living, biographies of Christians, etc.
Mentoring/Discipling of Others. This is a discipline that will not only help you grow, but also the person that you invest your time in. You can study a book of the Bible or read and discuss a good Christian book.
You could also add to this list other things like stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude.
We should always be growing. A life of Christian growth is God-centered. Tim Keller has said that if God is not at the center of your life, something else is.
What would you add to this list as a way to grow as a believer?