Spiritual growth is not for the weak of heart.
To grow spiritually, you must be daring, willing to take risks. You have to be willing to be different than most of the world. You have to dare to grow spiritually. I’d like to explain what I mean by that.
When I was a Roman Catholic Christian, I realized that being one was not easy. There were tough decisions to make about how I thought, acted and lived my life. Not only were there the rules of the Catholic Church, not all of which I agreed with, there were also the teachings of Jesus. I still hold onto those teachings of Jesus. They imbue my spiritual growth today although, I express it differently than I did previously.
My favorite summary of what a Christian should be is found in Matthew 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount. I’m going to list my highlights.
The Core of Christian Living (for Me)
- Don’t hide your gifts. (Matt 5:16) We have an obligation to use the gifts given to us by our Creator. We are to be an example of right living. (A little interpretation there.)
- Wrong action begins with wrong thought. (Matt 5: 21-30) Adultery and murder are the two examples Jesus uses. They begin with your thoughts. They begin with not controlling your feelings. Without right thought and feeling you end up with wrong, and life changing, tragic action.
- Resolve your anger. (Matt 5: 21-26) Anger leads to destruction and can lead to murder. It can certainly poison your life.
- Don’t look at people as objects for your own use. (Matt 5: 27-30) The concept of lust is not about the other person. It’s about you and you wanting to use the other person to satisfy your own desires. Just don’t.
- Bless those you don’t like, those who you disagree with, those who can’t stand you. (Matt 5: 44) Following this verse takes great commitment and discipline. I’ll just quote it here: “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” Can you say to the next person who says something ugly to you, “May you you be filled with love and receive the deepest desire of your heart?” Try it next time and see how you do.
- Do good without making it a PR moment. (Matt 6: 1-4) Keep your charitable acts private.
- Quit worrying. (Matt 6:25-34) Just don’t. It’s all about trusting God and trusting you’ll be taken care of. That’s a tough one, isn’t it?
- Mind your own business. (Matt 7:1-6) OK, it really says don’t judge. What other people are, do or think, if it doesn’t affect you, just leave it alone. You judging is about you, not them.
- Pass the fruit test. (Matt 7: 15-20) If your thoughts and actions produce good in others, you pass the fruit test. If you have peace within you. You pass the fruit test. If people strive to be better around you, you pass the fruit test.
How do you live these 9 challenges in the Sermon on the Mount?