“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed…” Matthew 13:31
word count: 625 read time: ~2 minute
In many ways, the life of faith is analogous to our physical bodies. For instance, if you want to grow stronger, you need to perform exercises that will work the particular muscles you want to grow. Over time, as you persist in lifting weights, running, biking or swimming, you will become more skilled in the sport and your muscles will develop.
Over the past three months I have been working on becoming more grateful. My desire to grow in this area of life was in large part inspired by a book that I read on the scientific findings around gratitude. As I became convinced (and convicted) about the need to grow in this grace, I began writing a daily gratitude journal. In this journal, I daily recount the blessings God has afforded me.
This practice of growing in gratitude has not come without its struggles. At times, I do not feel grateful, but I have learned to push past my feelings by faith and extend thanks to God. In the same way, you do not always feel like working out, going to the gym or eating healthy. Yet, if you have a strong enough conviction about the need to exercise, you can push past the feelings and do it by faith.
The Christian life is meant to be one of continual change “from glory to glory” as we become more and more like Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18) At times, this change and transformation can happen almost instantaneously when we encounter the Lord in a fresh and personal way. I love it when that happens! Other times, I have found that it is through the spiritual disciplines we apply over an extended period of time that God grows us up in our faith walk.
Life can seem so multi-faceted and there can be multiple areas of weakness or strength where we want to grow and change. I have found that it is challenging to take on a variety of areas of change at once. I end up not making significant change in any one area when I try to tackle several areas at the same time. A more concentrated and focused approach to personal and spiritual growth has helped me to work on one muscle at a time and then move onto the next muscle once I feel strong in that area.
To apply this to your own life, choose an area where you want to grow and change. You may look through the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or Paul’s description of love (1 Cor 13:4-8) and pick out one category that you want to grow in by God’s grace. Maybe it’s patience or peace or joy. Then make a commitment to work with God on that area for an extended period of time. Researchers say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, so I would suggest focusing on this area for at least a month.
Once you have found the area in which you desire to truly grow and change, here are four ways in which you can “work that muscle” to help it grow stronger:
1.Pray about it daily asking God for his grace and power to grow
2.Do a Bible search of related Scriptures to study, meditate on and memorize
3.Find a good Christian book on the topic
4.Ask a friend, mentor or coach to keep you accountable in this area of your life
Before long, as you focus on specific areas of your life, you will see that the mustard seed of faith you had at the start will grow into a tree that will then support, bless and encourage others in their faith. (Matthew 13:31-32)
If you enjoyed it, you may also enjoy, my book Born to Grow