To Be a
Christ is set before every Christian as the goal toward which we strive. The more we grow to be like Christ, the more “spiritual” we become. One can be a Christian and yet not be “spiritual.” Such was the plight of the Corinthians (I Cor. 3:1). Hopefully the thoughts of this lesson will help us all grow to be more like Jesus, hence more spiritual men and women.
1. Spirituality is greatly concerned about true values, right attitudes and correct motives.
Unfortunately some people engage in religious activities from wrong motives. Pharisees did their righteous deeds to be seen of men (Matt. 6:1). Whatever we do, it must be “to the glory of God,” not of self (I Cor. 10:31). Even those who preach and teach Christ must be careful lest they do so of envy and strife or other faulty motives (Phil. 1:15-17). The spiritual person follows the path of maximum service and minimal selfishness. He desires “right for the sake of right, truth for the sake of truth, love for love’s own sake, honor for honor’s sake, humility for the virtue in humility.”
2. Spirituality is tested by its comparative interest in temporal and eternal rewards.
Temporal rewards are those positions in life which feed pride, give prominence, afford great financial remuneration or otherwise bestow rewards that belong only to the present life. Eternal rewards, on the other hand, look to God and eternity for their fulfillment. Moses gave up temporal rewards of a high station in Egypt and cast his lot with God’s people because “he looked to the recompense of reward” which God offered (Heb. 11:24-26). Paul said that he held not his life of any account as dear to himself so that he could accomplish his course and the ministry he had received from Christ (Acts 20:24). His spiritual value system was properly ordered.
3. Spiritual power comes when we weep over our sins and those of others.
The greatness of Paul’s spiritual strength is seen in the fact that despite all his notable attainments he still felt himself to be “the chief of sinners” (I Tim 1:15). His great heart ached for his fellow Hebrews who were yet in unbelief (Rom. 9:1). He wept for enemies of the cross, rather than despise or hate them (Phil. 3:17-19). May God give us a tender heart and sensitive conscience.
4. A spiritual soul is able to judge properly between the most important and less important things.
He will then have the courage and strength to choose the right, no matter the difficulties involved or the consequences thereof. He knows that one soul is more precious than the whole world (Mark 8:36-37). To be spiritual, one’s education, career, profession, and hobbies must be kept in proper perspective.
5. A spiritual person is faithful to a trust.
Along with Paul, the gospel of God is committed to our trust (I Tim. 1:11). Jesus said that he that is faithful in little is faithful in much (Luke 16:10). If you would be spiritual, whether you teach a nursery class or the adults, whether you clean the building or serve as treasurer, you must be faithful to that trust.
6. Spirituality is measured by the readiness with which we judge others and the manner in which those judgments are expressed.
This includes our attitude toward teachers, elders, preachers and fellow Christians. A carnal mind judges all men to be untrustworthy until they prove themselves worthy. Those who are spiritual count all men honorable until they prove themselves otherwise. A spiritual heart expresses its criticisms like a gentle nurse (I Thess. 2:7). The worldly heart is harsh and thoughtless. The spiritual heart “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things” (I Cor. 13:7). The spiritual man dispenses judgment to others in the way he would want to be judged (Matt. 7:12). He always seeks to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). A spiritual soul is careful in the use of “loaded words” such as “liberal,” “heretic,” “extremist,” “soft,” “narrow.” Such words have no precise meaning. They convey a different message to every hearer. In a mixed group, most any Christian could be called by all of these terms. The spiritual person prefers to use Biblical terminology in order to express himself in a non-prejudicial way. He measures his words so that they “may give grace to them that hear” (Eph. 4:29).
7. Some things that will help us grow spiritually.
We grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ by reading spiritual literature (II Pet. 3:18). First in priority is the reading of God’s Word. Read it daily, systematically and purposefully. Read good devotional books. Among those volumes that have been helpful to spiritual growth over the years are: John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis; Holy Living by Jeremy Taylor, and The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul by Philip Doddridge. We will grow by taking time to mediate upon God’s word (Ps. 1:2; 4:4). Like Paul we need to set spiritual goals and work towards attaining them. A good goal is to be more like Christ in word, thought and deed (Phil. 3:16). Honest self-examination is a vital necessity if we are to develop spiritually. The Corinthians needed this and so do we (II Cor. 13:5). Self examination will help us be more patient with the shortcomings of others (Matt. 7:3-5). We need to confess our sins (Jas. 5:16). Those who would instruct others especially need to purge their hearts regularly lest their sins neutralize their message. A proud impenitent heart cannot lead students in the paths of righteousness. Frequent prayer should adorn the life of every Christian (I Thess. 5:17). If the Son of God needed lengthy seasons of prayer with his Father, how much more do we frail sinners need such? (Luke 6:17).
Spiritual souls will associate with those of like precious faith. They will be drawn together by common interests and desires. They will seek the strength other righteous souls can supply. They will want to reciprocate (Heb. 10:24-25). Let every Christian ponder this question: “If Paul wrote me today, would he address me as a spiritual disciple or as carnal?” Should your answer be the latter, will you not take active steps to correct your status. “O to be like thee, blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer.”
–John Waddey, Fortify Your Faith