Spiritual growth is not a mystery. Why, look at a farmer sowing seed in the ground, and you’ll understand it. So says, Jesus in his parable of the sower. And his parable spins off several important lessons. It tells us that God expects us to grow. He expects a harvest. Christianity is not just about being forgiven of sin, but being saved from our sinning. Jesus accepts us as we are, but then never leaves us that way.
The parable reminds me that spiritual growth starts as a seed, so its beginnings are small and humble. I need not despair that I’m letting God down with my slow growth. No great men and women of faith are born into God’s kingdom – only spiritual babies. Growth takes time.
If spiritual growth is like a farmer sowing seed, then that shows me that it takes God and me working together in a holy collaboration to bring it about. God makes it all possible, and he provides all the raw materials, and without him I am utterly lost – nonetheless he invites me as his son or daughter to share in this amazing work.
What about the seed itself? Let’s not forget that. Jesus tells us that the seed is “the word” (Mark 4:14), the “word of the kingdom” (Matt.13:17). This then points to a fourth principle. Spiritual growth depends on my closeness to the Word of God.
Jesus wants you to know that whatever ends up happening in your life – whether you end up being swallowed up by Satan, or tripped up by life’s troubles, or choked up by the pursuit of wealth and pleasure, or whether you end up being a fruitful and growing follower of Christ depends on what you do with God’s Word.
Of all the spiritual disciplines, none as important as the habit of having a daily connection with God’s Word. There is nothing Satan has worked harder at than keeping the message of the Bible from getting into the hands, heads and hearts of people.
Everybody prays – at least most everyone says they do. But in prayer, it’s usually us talking to God. With the Bible though, it’s God talking to us. So many people bemoan the fact that God never speaks to them. But he does! People say, “Oh I wish I knew what God’s will is for my life.” But we do know!
95% of what God wants you to do with your life is right there in the pages of Scripture. Master the 95% of what’s already been given you and the other 5% will probably become clearer. Nothing you do in your day is more important than taking time to open this book.
The Bible says of itself that it has the power to reach to very inner depths of our being to expose our sin and cut away our selfishness. Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Your heart and mind are like soil (more on that next time.) It’s begging for seed. Why let your life remain barren and empty any longer? Read or listen to God’s Word. Reflect on it. Then respond. And repeat. Day after day. That’s how a child of God grows strong in faith.
This isn’t rocket science. It’s as simple as gardening.