Very few Christian men and women that I speak with are unconcerned with spiritual growth. They want to grow in their knowledge and experience of God and the gospel. Some men and women, however, understand growth in the Christian life as optional — a kind of endeavor that “varsity” Christians delight in, but certainly has no bearing on one’s relationship with God. Is spiritual growth an important (or necessary) component to the Christian life? If so, how do we begin to measure our progression in the Christian life? And can our spiritual metrics be applied without drifting into moralistic rules and regulations?
In Paul’s letter to the Colossian church, he informs them that he and those with whom He co-labors “warn and teach everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone mature in Christ (1:28).” False teachers had arisen in the church and begun challenging the gospel that Epaphras had delivered to them — a message that Paul implies in 1:6-7 reflected the very “gospel of grace” that He himself taught (in accord with the other apostles). Inherent in the gospel-seed that Epaphras had planted was the power for miraculous and exponential growth (1:6,9) in the lives of those who had “heard it and understood.” Gospel growth became, in fact, the sole motivation for Paul’s energies: “for [the presentation of everyone mature in Christ] I toil, struggling with all the energy that [God] powerfully works within me (1:29).”
If growth in the gospel was this important to Paul, should it not be equally as important to us? If yes, the how do we begin to measure spiritual growth in our own and in the lives of those around us without creating new rules and traditions that lead us away from the gospel and toward moralism (“If I work for God, God will work for me”)?
Clint Archer has written a very helpful post outlining 5 signs of spiritual maturity:
1. An Appetite for Meat
2. An Imperviousness to Personal Offense
3. A Conscience Informed By Scripture, Not Opinion
4. A Sense of Humble Surprise when used by God in Ministry
5. Tendency to give Credit for Spiritual Growth to God, not People