“In a child or a flower or a tree we are all aware that when there is no growth there is something wrong. Healthy life . . . will always show itself by progress and increase. It is just the same with our souls.” (Ryle, Holiness, 84)
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, it’s plausible that you’ve had the feeling: the feeling of mediocrity; the feeling that you just aren’t growing; the feeling that your relationship with Christ is . . . average. Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Over the next few posts, I’ll be writing briefly on a handfull of ways you can overcome spiritual mediocrity and become a stronger, more fulfilled Christian who glorifies God with their lives.
For some, reading is a serious chore. For others, it’s a complete joy. If it’s a chore for you, what are some of the difficulties you face? Deciding on what they are will help you get closer to solving them (which is incredibly important, because God’s Word is not in mp3 format!). Translation? Overachievement? Ignorance of where to even begin?
Here are some pointers: start small (read 1 John 1x daily for 5 days), read through it smoothly (don’t get hung up on details at first), and choose a modern translation (like the English Standard Version). What you read should make an impact on your thought-life and relationship with God. If it doesn’t, then your just wasting time. Remember what Wooden said: “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.”
Here are some of the things that the Bible promises to its readers:
- wisdom (Ps. 19:7; Pr. 2:6; 2 Tim. 2:7)
- holiness (Ps. 119:111; Jn. 17:17)
- growth (2 Pet. 2:2; 2 Tim. 3:16)
- light/knowledge (Ps. 119:104-105)
Any and all of these will bring you out of spiritual stagnation!
Supplementing and Meditating
Whether reading is your niche or not, supplementing your Bible reading not only keeps your mind fresh and curious but it also helps your understanding. For example, reading good books on marriage (if you’re married), helpful books on how to navigate life (if you’re facing indecision or change), or topical books (if you want to learn more about, say, the Holy Spirit) keeps you wise and educated. As your mind grows (as any growing muscle does), it will request more work. Reward it and give it what it wants! (No, it doesn’t want more television!) Try Tripp’s What Did You Expect, Cloud’s Changes that Heal, or Stott’s Baptism and Fullness.
Many, many christians stumble here, but always to their detriment. Although it requires discipline, memorization is an aid that helps us in many ways, because the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to transform our minds and hearts to better reflect Christ. When God’s Word is in us, we’re unlikely to break it, more likely to obey it, and far more likely to speak it. Charles Spurgeon mentioned this in regard to John Bunyan. He said, “Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” So write verses on a card, write the address on the back, and start tackling memorization. Here’s a good one to start with: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11)
Here are some practical suggestions to get you started.
- block time to read each day (small but consistent blocks of time)
- read what you can . . . don’t worry about what you can’t
- start! . . . and allow the outcome to happen naturally