Luke 2:52 tells us that during his time growing up, Jesus developed in four ways.
He developed in wisdom – intellectual development.
He developed in stature – physical development.
He developed in favor with God – spiritual development.
He developed in favor with man – interpersonal development.
A full human life is well balanced. Thus, it was important to Jesus—and it should be important to all believers—to develop fully and harmoniously in each of these key areas: physical, mental, social, and spiritual.
Luke tells us that Jesus grew spiritually. That might seem like the most obvious understatement ever written. But specifically, Luke said Jesus grew “in favor with God.” Ephesians 4:13 says “Real maturity is that measure of development which is meant by `the fullness of Christ.'” I believe that God’s number one goal for your life is that you will develop the character of Jesus Christ. But here is the problem, I know people who have gone to church for years who have never really experienced spiritual growth. They are still in the same place spiritually as they were when they began as Christians. It is important that we all take responsibility for our spiritual growth.
Growing spiritually begins with the realization that, like Sting of the Police writes, “We are spirits in a material world.” Ephesians 5:15 says, “Live life, then with a due sense of responsibility, not as people who don’t know the meaning of life, but as those who do.” To grow in this way, we must take responsibility to seek out and communicate with God, to hear from him, and to respond to him and ultimately to become like his son Jesus. We must become accountable for various spiritual disciplines such as prayer, bible reading, communing with other believers, and sharing our faith with the world.
When I served as a pastor of a church, I would invite all the members of the congregation to meet with me at the beginning of each year for a spiritual checkup. In much the same way as you may visit a doctor for an annual physical checkup, I would meet with the member each year to diagnose their spiritual health. This process would often take the better part of a month to sit down with each person, but the time was well spent when you consider the commitments to spiritual growth that were made in those meetings.
Here is an example of what would be covered in a spiritual checkup.
1.What was my scripture verse of the year for last year? (Each January I encouraged each member to choose a scripture verse that they believed God wanted them to focus on for the year. (They were to memorize it, meditate on it, even write it on the walls of the lobby of the church building while seeking to live it out in practice throughout the year.) If you chose one last year recall it, reconnect with it, and remember the reason you picked that verse.
2. Through what difficulties last year did God try to teach me to rely on Him?
Think back upon some specific difficult times you went through last year and then remember how God was with you in the midst of them.
3. Am I growing spiritual fruit by spending time each day in God’s word and prayer? What is it that I continually struggle with? Which fruit of the Spirit do I need to focus on cultivating in the coming year? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
4. Am I connecting with others within the church, using the gifts and abilities God gave me by serving, and then reaching out to share my faith with people outside of the church. (Here we would discuss how each member’s unique SHAPE for ministry (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience) and then identify people in their area of influence that they could share their faith with.)
5. What is God putting on my heart to be my scripture verse for this year?
Take time this week to turn off your TV, and computer, open up God’s word and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a verse that will help guide you in the coming year. Revisit this exercise each day this week and prepare for what God wants to do in you and through you in the coming year.
As spiritual checkup is similar to a physical checkup, your doctor may then write a prescription for you. Here is the one I would write for each member on acquiring good spiritual habits.
Below are some HABITS a spiritually healthy person might do with regularity.
H. Have a daily quiet time with God, praying and reading the Bible.
A. Avail yourself regularly to be accountable with another believer.
B. Bible memorization of a variety of passages.
I. Involve yourself in service on a ministry team based upon your gifts.
T. Tithing (giving 10% of your income to your church)
S. Study the Bible and fellowship regularly in a small group and always be prepared to share the hope that is within you with a friend or co-worker.
I still do a check up on myself each year in hopes of developing a spiritual maturity that will make me more like Christ.