Annie Sander
Don’t Wish for Spiritual Growth, Work for It
running shoes, to represent working for spiritual growth

Don’t Wish for Spiritual Growth, Work for It

I am a working mother. I am a steady volunteer for my children’s respective schools and my church. I’m a carpool mom for various after-school programs, a wife of 15 years, a daughter of aging parents, and a mother trying to cook healthy homemade meals at least three times a week.

I’m an aunt to nine nieces and nephews and, in my spare time, I’m trying to lose ten pounds before my niece’s wedding in October, to develop friendships — and did I mention recording a new EP album before November? Needless to say, I have many good things vying for my attention and time, along with ample excuses not to get it all done in any given day.

A Challenge to Work

Yesterday, my car pulled out of my driveway at 8:32am. Frankly, I was pretty proud of myself for being ready for the day: perfume and make-up applied, everyone fed, and kids off to school by this hour. As I was driving, I saw a woman running with a jogging stroller, which held three toddler triplets. I’ve seen this woman before — frequently in fact — but this morning the image of this mother and her children hit me in a whole new way.

I thought, Here is a woman who is hungry to grow. This woman’s desire for physical health far exceeded the difficulty of wrangling three toddlers into a stroller by 8:30 am (sometimes even earlier).

While spiritual growth is partly produced by the believer, it is sovereignly governed by God.

Observing this woman’s tenacity and desire instantly inspired me. She is working hard for something she really values, I thought. This young mother has at least three justifiable “excuses” for why she didn’t have to be jogging at that hour of the morning. She had plenty of good things vying for her time and attention.

But, instead of surrendering to the obstacles which stood in the way of her physical health, instead of wishing her circumstances were different, instead of waiting for them to change, she stopped wishing and started working toward her goal, despite adversities.

While observing this woman, God challenged me about my spiritual growth:

• What am I willing to endure to grow in my faith?
• Where is my tenacity and desire these days?
• Am I wishing for, rather than working for, a deeper relationship with Christ?

Recently, I’ve found myself in precisely the place of wishing, rather than working. What about you?

Who’s Responsible?

Time in God’s Word is so easily set aside when the pressures of work, our kids’ schedules, our marriages, and our community time are all vying for our attention. As for the running-mother-of-triplets, the tyranny of the urgent could have crowded out her need to work towards her health. But it didn’t. She made the decision to work for growth.

Will we do the same?

As believers, it is vital for us to make the decision to work for spiritual growth, so we are personally transformed and so we can impact others with the love of Christ.

Pastor and author John MacArthur aptly reminds us in his article “Who Is Responsible For Your Spiritual Growth?“:

…the Christian life is anything but a passive pursuit. The New Testament commands believers to “be all the more diligent” (2 Peter 1:10), to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), to “strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24), to “run” that we may obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), and to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Our spiritual growth clearly involves human exertion.

But MacArthur also reminds us from Philippians 2:12-13 that, while spiritual growth is in part produced by the believer, it is also sovereignly governed by God:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

God Works, We Work

Therefore, because it is God at work within us, we have been given everything we need to pursue growth in Christ. When we are daily devoted to developing a deeper connection with Christ, allowing God to do a work in us through the truth of his Word, the growth results are as follows:

His delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3)

Establishing a daily routine and working toward, not just wishing for, a deeper relationship with Christ is so worth it. When we unlock God’s living and active Word, Psalm 1 tells us we will yield fruit and we will prosper.

Do you find yourself wishing for a deeper connection with Christ? If so, what is one thing you can do to create time and space to commune with the God of the universe?

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