Our theme for this month: “A New Year, A New Beginning”
Our Bible verse for today: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “The benefits of spiritual growth are enjoyed now, in this lifetime.”
Spiritual growth brings us both immediate and long-term benefits, in this lifetime and for eternity. Today we’ll consider the impact of spiritual growth for this life, and tomorrow we will shift the conversation to eternity.
As has been previously noted, the moment you place your faith in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins God places His Holy Spirit inside your heart, and that begins a lifelong process of growth and transformation that theologians refer to as “progressive sanctification”.
The most important result spiritual growth produces in you during this lifetime is that you come to know Jesus better. This is what the Apostle Peter was referring to in 2 Peter 3:18 when he wrote, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Your spiritual growth increases your knowledge and understanding of Jesus, and it also increases your experience or awareness of His grace at work in your life.
Spiritual growth also increases the degree to which the character of Christ becomes more and more evident in you. This is what Paul was describing in Galatians 5:22-23 by what he termed “the fruit of the Spirit”. These are attributes of Christ that progressively come to define the personality and character of the mature Christian. And think about it, aren’t these the things everyone is seeking more of in life anyway, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”? Isn’t that what people are really trying to achieve through relationships and money and possessions and alcohol and all the other things we fill our lives with? Spiritual growth fills that empty space in your heart that nothing else can fill.
In addition to the fruit of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians, the New Testament also describes many other benefits of spiritual growth in this lifetime. Spiritual growth teaches us how to be content (Philippians 4:10-13); it creates a purity of mind and heart (Philippians 4:8); it produces courage in us (Acts 5:29); and it empowers us to be a dynamic force for good in a broken and hurting world (Matthew 5:3-10, Acts 1:8).
The Christian life is an exciting adventure. The more spiritually mature you are, the more God will involve you in the adventure and the more you will appreciate and enjoy it. The best life you will ever have is the one lived in the center of God’s will, fully experiencing a robust and mature faith. That’s what spiritual growth does for us in this lifetime.
Tomorrow we will consider how our spiritual growth determines what eternity will be like for us.