We measure our growth in many areas. We have metrics to measure our financial growth, our fitness goals, our grades at school and lots of other things. But how do we measure our spiritual growth? How can we be assured that the person we are today is not the same person we were yesterday? Certainly we could look at whether we know God’s word more or pray more today than we did a year ago. But if Bible study and prayer does not result in a radical change in our lives then we have to ask the question, “what effect is reading the Bible and praying really having on my life?” I want to suggest 5 metrics, or questions to ask yourself, from Philippians 2:3-8 that you can use when measuring your own spiritual growth.
Do nothing out of SELFISH AMBITION or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
How much do I think about others in comparison to thinking about myself? How much am I willing to take a genuine interest in the things that matter most to other people even if they don’t matter to me at all while making them feel as though it does matter to me? How much do I put other people’s needs before and above my own?
In verse 5 Paul encouraged his readers to have the same attitude Jesus had. In verse 6 he wrote,
Though He was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, HE GAVE UP His divine privileges.
Have you ever thought about all that Jesus had to give up in order to save us? It says He “emptied Himself” or “gave up” His heavenly and divine privileges. He gave up a perfect environment in heaven to come to earth to be a carpenter. To sacrifice means to give up something that is valuable to you. It could be your time, money or anything else very important to you. When God challenges you to do something does He normally end up getting the short end of the stick? Does work always win or are you willing to sacrifice and be obedient to God? Our willingness to sacrifice to God and for others is a great way to measure our spiritual growth.
Concerning Jesus Paul said,
He took the humble position of a SLAVE…
One thing that was clear in observing Jesus’ life is that He was always serving others. He taught others. He washed their feet. He healed people. He made disciples and poured His life into people. His life was about serving others and adding value to their life. So, the question we should ask here is, “do I normally look for people to serve me or am I actively looking for ways I can serve others?” And what I’ve learned is that the attitude of service is just as important as the act. Are you willing to do tasks that no one else will do that seem beneath you or do you see yourself as being too good to perform such tasks? Ouch! If Jesus came to earth to serve people who eventually crucified Him, who am I to say that I am not willing or too good to serve in a certain capacity?
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in OBEDIENCE to God…
The idea here is OBEDIENCE. Jesus was obedient to what His Father was requiring Him to do. A major way to measure your spiritual growth is to honestly assess how obedient/submissive you are to what God wants from you. How obedient are you in the areas of sexual purity, lust, time management, using your gifts, overeating, and giving? Next we must ask the question, “how submissive am I to the people God has placed over my life (spouse, boss, spiritual leader)?” A maturing Christian is one who can see progress not perfection.
Finally, concerning Jesus, Paul wrote,
…and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Jesus was willing to suffer for because He knew that God would use His suffering to bring about a greater good. The problem today is that we have too many Christians who believe that the Christian life is supposed to be easy and free from difficulties. Our growth is exemplified when we are able to endure life’s trials in a mature way, which means without constantly complaining, pouting or turning away from the faith when things don’t go our way. Part of our spiritual growth is our ability to take our share of suffering, turn to God for strength and then later use it as a testimony to help someone else. This requires that we adopt the mindset that this Christian life will include suffering but knowing that God can bring about the greater good as a result of it.
So, how are we doing? I want to encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions every so often and measure your own spiritual growth from time to time. The cool thing is that you can apply these questions to various areas of your life including your own relationships. Are you willing to be selfless, sacrifice, serve, submit to and suffer for others? The more we grow in these areas the more we look like Jesus.
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