What are the Signs of Spiritual Growth?
After being in the church for some time you may start to wonder if you’re growing spiritually. What are the signs of spiritual growth? How do you know if you’re spiritually immature?
How Do You Measure Spiritual Maturity?
We’ve talked about four keys to spiritual growth, so you know what to do, but you know if it’s working? I wish there was an easy way to measure our spiritual maturity. I mean it would be nice if there was a three-step process for measuring spiritual growth:
- When you are first baptized, stand against a wall and draw a line over your head.
- At the end of every year (or quarter), stand against the same wall and draw a new line.
- Compare the two lines—that’s how much you have grown as a Christian.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a painfully slow process that you won’t even realize is happening until many years have passed. I would suggest that you think about some of the things you did before you came into the church—things you know disappointed God—how do you feel about those things now? Are you still doing them? What’s your attitude towards persons who do the things you once did?
I’d also like to encourage you not to get too caught up on measuring your spiritual growth because many times we tend to measure ourselves against others instead of God. We look at persons who came into the body of Christ after we did and we compare ourselves to them. If in our eyes they appear to be doing better than we are, we wonder why. If they seem to be floundering, we question why they’re not growing.
“Okay, Ami, so what should I do?”
Let’s stop worrying so much about finding signs of spiritual maturity and pursue Jehovah with all our mind, heart and soul.
Seek First the Kingdom
One of my favorite passages is Matthew 6:25-34 (and yes, I have many favorites). As someone who constantly worries about the future (I like to know what’s coming), these verses reassure me that God is in control and as long as I focus on Him, all is right in the world (at least in my world). Worrying about our spiritual growth is like worrying about our physical growth or that of a plant—it’s utterly useless because there’s nothing we can do about either.
Let’s zero in on this verse:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33 NKJV).
Related: Seek First the Kingdom
Instead of getting obsessed with whether we are showing signs of physical growth, let us focus on seeking God and having His righteousness imputed to us.
I know it’s hard—I struggle with it too. I want to know that I’m growing in my faith and that I’m not the same person I was when I first gave my life to Christ. But I’ve found that when I focus too much on measuring my spiritual life, I often get drawn into the comparison game and then I get in trouble because there’s always someone who appears to be growing faster than you are.
This constant comparison to others may even be considered a sign of spiritual immaturity.
On the other hand, when I focus on Christ I don’t have time to worry about if I’m growing because I’m busy using the keys to unlock my spiritual growth.
Okay, now I feel a lot of evil eyes aimed at me: “Why did you call the post ‘Signs of Spiritual Growth’ if you’re not going to tell me what the signs are?” So let’s talk about it or you can watch this video on YouTube instead.
Signs of Spiritual Growth
Okay, if you want to know what the signs of spiritual growth are I’ll tell you—it’s the fruit.
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45 NKJV).
If you want to know if you’re growing spiritually, ask yourself about the fruit you’re producing. Now if you don’t know what type of fruit to look for, you may once again start to compare yourself to someone else. The fruit you’re looking for is the fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV).
Notice that the Bible said fruit—singular—not fruits as we sometimes render it. The original Greek word was karpós and could also have been translated:
- the fruit of the trees, vines, of the fields
- the fruit of one’s loins, i.e. his progeny, his posterity
- that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result
- work, act, deed
- advantage, profit, utility
- praises, which are presented to God as a thank-offering
- to gather fruit (i.e. a reaped harvest) into life eternal (as into a granary), is used in fig. discourse of those who by their labors have fitted souls to obtain eternal life
Another way to think of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is as a collective noun—if one from the set is missing, then we don’t have the fruit of the Spirit.
So if we have joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control but don’t have love, we have nothing. That’s why Jesus said in John 15:5:
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”