One of my goals for 2020 is to become more spiritual. Spiritual growth is something God wants all Christians to continually achieve (2 Peter 3:18). Christ’s followers must believe they are capable of doing that with His help (Philippians 4:13). They must truly strive to develop the behavior and attributes God wants them to have: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Perseverance is a must if these goals are to be met. Christians in biblical times were told that endurance was needed (Hebrews 10:36). In fact, steadfastness is one of the traits God wants His disciples to continually obtain and grow towards (2 Peter 1:5-7). The Bible says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1).
There are several reasons perseverance is a necessity. For one, spiritual growth does not happen overnight. It takes time, something to which the Hebrew writer alluded (Hebrews 5:12). It takes time to learn the Word of God, what is expected of Christians, and what areas of service may be open. It takes time to develop Christ-like character. Unless one perseveres and remains steadfast in their efforts, there will not be adequate time for the type of spiritual growth God wants.
Spiritual growth also requires repetition. Very rarely does anyone need to be told just the one time to improve in a particular area of their lives, especially when it comes to their Christian walk. One reason Christians are told in the Bible to not neglect going to church was because assembling together to worship and learn more of God’s Word week after week – and thus being reminded over and over again of what God wants of them – results in actual application of what one is continually reminded. It takes perseverance to choose to continually and repeatedly be instructed of God’s will.
Spiritual growth can also regress, which is another reason for the need for endurance. The Christians at Ephesus had made a lot of progress, but they had begun to backslide (Revelation 2:4-5). The Hebrew Christians had regressed by simply failing to grow in knowledge (Hebrews 5:12). The Christians involved in false teaching about whom Peter wrote had begun to allow worldliness to take over their lives once more (2 Peter 2:20-22). Just as one’s physical health requires persistent exercise, spiritual growth likewise requires perseverance. Otherwise, one will regress back into spiritual sickness.
I’ve come to realize that if I am to grow spiritually as I hope to and as God wishes for me in 2020, I’m going to have to persevere. This will require self-control on my part every single day. There’s a reason Peter said Christians are to had steadfastness to self-control (2 Peter 1:6). When self-control is practiced daily, over time one will become more constant in their Christianity. One will have more endurance. I will have to discipline myself to study my Bible and pray to God every single day. I will need to serve the church more on a daily basis, using whatever skills and abilities I have to function in the body of Christ.
What will help me continue to do this is to focus more on the rewards spiritual growth will bring to me. I’m speaking first of heaven, the ultimate goal. That’s what Paul did, and it resulted in him enduring more difficulties than I will ever go through (2 Corinthians 4:8-5:1). Jesus did the same. The Hebrew writer says that Christ “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Yet it will help me to focus on the benefits found in this life also. For example, a strong prayer life will lead to less stress and more peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Going out of my way to encourage others to strive for spiritual growth alongside me will help protect both them and me from falling away (Hebrew 3:12-15). Daily Bible study will help me become a better person (1 Peter 2:1-2). Remaining focused on the ultimate goal of heaven as well as the good things that can come in this life will help me stay constant in working to grow towards what Jesus would have me be.
These are my goals for 2020. Why not join me in working towards achieving them?