How do You Measure Spiritual Growth?

In my yard are quarter-circles of grass growing taller than the rest. There’s also a 12-foot circle with no grass. What explains these phenomena? Alien laser blasts? A Martian landing site? No. The arcs are where we threw lawn fertilizer, and the circle is where the pool stood. Whether growth is fast, slow, or non-existent, the difference is easy to discern.

Paul tells his opponents to stop using worldly yardsticks instead of God’s (2 Cor. 10:12). By a worldling’s measure, Paul seemed a failure, but in God’s eyes he was a glorious conqueror. By what standards should we measure spiritual progress?

1. Spiritual diet—meat vs. milk (1 Cor. 3:1-2). Am I learning more of God’s Word, going broader and deeper than ever before? Or am I just rehashing what I’ve known for years, or worse yet, not reading and studying at all?

2. Spiritual model: Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:13). We measure our growth not by comparing ourselves with others, but with Christ. My life is guided not just by WWJD (what would Jesus do?), but also by WWJT (think) and WWJB (be). It is not just actions but also thoughts and motives that measure maturity.

3. Spiritual character—the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Am I growing in love, in joy, in peace, in patience, in kindness, in goodness, in faithfulness, in gentleness, and in self-control? It’s like a cluster of grapes: each matures on its own—patience may be green while joy is ripe. Yet they all mature together.

4. Spiritual offspring—those you teach (Heb. 5:12). The ability to instruct others in the faith is a mark of maturity. The immature cannot reproduce. How are you doing at being able to share the gospel with someone else?

God blesses the heart that is devoted to Him. Will you settle for no-growth or slow-growth by devoting yourself to worldly pursuits or giving the Lord half-hearted effort? Or will you put your heart and soul into maturing in Christ? Either way, the difference will soon be evident.

—Steve Singleton