Are you growing up in the Lord? It’s not like you can stand in the doorway of God’s kitchen and let Him measure your height and make a notch on the door frame. But there should be indicators that we are growing strong in the Lord. I am not talking about church attendance or regular Bible reading. Hopefully you have those things under control.
1. Your Appetite Changes! Tastes for certain types of material and activities should leave your system and be replaced with a Godly appetites. Job said, “I have esteemed the words of Thy mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12) If you struggle in this area, ask the Lord to change your appetite. Once you move away from worldly junk food and begin treasuring the revelational words from heaven, your appetites will change.
2. You Become Disgusted With The Shameful! The more you become like Christ (this is God’s plan for every believer) the more you will find yourself turning away in disgust at activities that once fascinated you. There is no need to list a bunch of activities to illustrate what is shameful. Paul wrote that before we met Christ we were enemies with God and our “god was our belly and whose glory was in our shame.” Now that we are His children, He gives us a “shame meter.” The world doesn’t possess this type of shame meter, but the believer is given a strong sense of right and wrong. We know we are growing up in the Lord when this shame meter speaks to us with clarity.
Remember, the Lord is not expecting you to inflict your appetite and shame meter on other believers. These first two changes are internal transformations within you. They are a part of the Lord’s “salt and light” program and reveal that we are His children.
3. A Genuine Love For Other believers! Jesus emphatically told His disciples on several occasions, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) Jesus didn’t say if they went to church, read their Bible, witnessed effectively, or grew in numbers, then people would know they were His disciples. No, Jesus said that the world at-large would know real believers by their love for one another.
The principle here is simple: the closer we are to Christ, the more we will love His people. Conversely, the further we stray from Christ, the less concern we have for other believers and the more critical we will become of them. In short, if we love Christ, we will love His people. If we love the world, we will despise His people. This is one of Jesus’ main markers to indicate whether we are truly growing in the Lord. How are you doing in this area?
4. Possessing Unusual Peace and Quietness! With the recent upheavals in the economy, political arena, and in the natural world, it is a wonder that anyone could walk in tranquility. The growing believer can! There are numerous “peace” verse in the Bible. This is for a good reason. We need them!
- “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (I Corinthians 14:32-34)
- “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8)
If you are growing in the Lord, His peace is your rudder. His peace is supposed to be guiding, guarding, and steadying your walk in this world. It is our lack of understanding and possessing the Lord’s peace in our hearts that keeps us from receiving real revelation from the Lord about futuristic events. As Jack once said, “You can’t handle the truth.” The reason we can’t handle the truth is because the Lord’s peace is not fully installed in our life. This is why there was such a glaring distinction between Jesus and His disciples when they faced storms, demons, death, and other problems. Jesus possessed peace, they didn’t. Grow in the peace of God today! The Lord will lead you to places you never thought you could go.
5. Possessing Strange Patience! Do you remember when crazy drivers, unloving people, and ungodly conditions found in the world upset you? Sorry, maybe there is still some work to do here. Patience appears strange to many because it is rare to see it at work in people’s lives. Patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Those growing in the Lord will possess this virtue because the Lord uses it in a mighty way for Kingdom advancement.
When we are patient and longsuffering like the Lord, we are able to minister to people who are currently displeasing to God. Like the Lord, we are able to love the unloving. Patience gives us “God’s Capacity“ for people to meet people’s needs in the worst of circumstances. This explains how believers can serve the Lord in homeless shelters, jails/prisons, and in other mission centers in the roughest of neighborhoods. Is your patience growing or shrinking? Allow the Lord to increase your capacity for Kingdom work.
6. Full of Joy! Jesus said, “This is my commandment that you love one another, that your joy may be full.” (John 15 ) Many people (both believers and non-believers) have created an overbearing portrait of Jesus. They view Him as a stern, grave, and serious figure. Yet every picture the Bible gives us of the Lord is one of joy, laughter, and contentment. For the growing believer, it is imperative to possess the correct picture of the Lord. Why? Because, “As He is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17)
Finding joy and possessing joy on a daily basis gives us the inner strength we need. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 ) Our inner strength doesn’t come from ourselves. Real inner confidence comes from knowing the Lord and receiving constant revelation from heaven. When we start looking to the Lord and worshiping Him in all circumstances…”the joy of the Lord becomes our strength.“ How about you? Is your spiritual inner core stronger today than last year?
7. A New Generosity! Since God gives and gives of Himself, we are just being like Him when we give. As we grow in Him our level of generosity is raised to new levels. Where we place our money, time, resources, and energy reveals where our heart is. The Lord wants all His children to become “cheerful givers.”
Jesus spent a lot of time speaking to the “internal” issues of a person’s life. Giving is an external demonstration of an internal conviction. The Lord doesn’t want us to just go through the motions of giving to others. He wants us to be blessed by the process as well. The more we receive from heaven, the more we will be able to give of our own resources, as well as heaven’s. Is there an open channel from heaven to you and then to others?
8. Joy In Anonymous Acts! It is said of Jesus that “He went about doing good“ (Acts 10:38) The growing believer will leave a trail of blessed people in his/her wake. Have you found the joy of giving without expecting anything in return? Our real blessings come when we never demand or expect anything in return.
Where we give is important to people. How we give is important to the Lord and indicates if we are really maturing in Him. If you struggle keeping your acts of righteousness off the radar, then you need work in this area. Jesus encouraged people to pray and give in secret. (see Matthew 6:3-4) Most of our prayer for others should be anonymous. If you feel the need to keep reminding people how much you are praying for them, then it may indicate your lack of faith and confidence in the power of prayer and the Lord. Have you learned to pray anonymously and leave the results to the Lord? Praying and giving the way Jesus prescribed can change your life!
9. More Silence In Your Prayer Time! Good friends enjoy silence with each other. Because their relationship is matured, they don’t feel the need to fill the vacuum of silence with chatter. I have even had the Lord tell me, “you talk too much.” Ouch! Suffice it to say, I have had to learn that prayer is more than just talking to God. Prayer involves a deeper level of intimacy that mere words dare to tread.
Someone asked Mother Teresa one time, “You pray hours a day. What do you talk about all that time?” She said, “Mostly, I just listen.” This simple answer was puzzling to the questioner. He further inquired, “You listen to God? What does He say?” She answered, “Mostly He just listens too.”
Have you learned to enjoy and appreciate the comfort and presence of the Lord? Or…does your prayer time have to be filled with words all the time? I believe Jesus knew how to enjoy the presence of His Father. He knew heaven’s discourse, how to ask and receive from the Father.
10. Unceasing Prayer! When asked how long you pray each day, you should have no idea. The scriptures exhort us to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) and to “pray always.” (Ephesians 6:18) It is imperative all believers have quiet times with the Lord. The problem is we have a tendency to “lock” God out of the rest of the day. We relegate prayer to that “special time” with God we set aside each day. Our quiet moments with the Lord are not meant to be the end all, but should set the tone for the rest of our day.
I am amused by polls that reveal the average Christian prays about 45 minutes a day. This means many believers are not praying at all. Wow! If you are truly growing in the Lord, you have grown way past this point. Those who desire to mature in the Lord know that constant prayer changes everything, including themselves. Make it your goal to stay connected to the Lord 24/7.