On January 7, I preached about “The Secret to Spiritual Growth,” which is the practice of spiritual disciplines. I mentioned 12 disciplines, and challenged us to engage in these disciplines as a way to develop our relationship with Christ. I will be posting blogs about each of these 12 disciplines in the future. (Perhaps you would like to focus on one discipline per month throughout 2019.) But in today’s blog, I just wanted to write a little bit more about spiritual disciplines.
It’s so important to understand that spiritual disciplines are simply activities and habits that help us grow in our walk with Christ. Spiritual disciplines can be very useful to help us grow in our relationship with Christ. It’s critical to know that they are not the indicator of our spirituality, but means to accomplish the desired outcome, which is knowing and loving Jesus. For example, if you work out and eat healthy, those are not the ultimate objectives or goals. Your objective is to lose weight and be healthy. You don’t work out just to work out. You work out with a goal in mind…getting fit and healthy. The same is true with spiritual disciplines. They are not the goal; they are the means to the end.
With that said, keep in mind that the focus of spiritual disciplines should be love, not legalism. Remember to engage in spiritual disciplines because you want to love Jesus more. If you’re married, there are certain activities and habits (disciplines) that you should engage in…not out of legalism because you have to, but out of love because you get to. Love should be the primary motivator of why you engage in spiritual disciplines to begin with. But it’s so easy and tempting to turn spiritual disciplines into lists or laws that we MUST accomplish in order to be a “good” Christian. We will then turn spiritual disciplines into “have to’s” and “guilt trips”…in other words, we will have to pray, read our Bible, go to church, and tithe in order for God to be happy with us. We have to check off each discipline; if we don’t, we are a spiritual failure. But the truth is…that’s simply not true. Remember disciplines are not activities you must do in order to earn God’s favor; they are activities that you might do in order to grow in your relationship with the Lord.
I want to continue to challenge us to engage in these spiritual activities (disciplines). May you do so out of love, not legalism. Remember…it’s not about trying harder, but about training wisely!