- Read Galatians 5:13-26 here.
- You can listen to this sermon here.
The death of Elisha is recorded in 2 Kings 13:20. His final days still find Elisha in conflict with the king of Israel reprimanding him for his lack of faith. Yet no one doubts Elisha’s personal relationship with God even though in some respects his ministry ends in failure as Israel continues their worship of idols. This got me to thinking, how can we measure our relationship with God? Is there a way to “score” our spiritual growth?
Here’s a basic methodology I came up with to help us develop personal “Spiritual Score Cards”. The process would involve finding a significant date each year to devote to some prayer and self-examination. You should keep a note book or journal to record your “scores” and reflections. You will then be able to compare your notes year after year and chart your spiritual growth.
1. Are there sins you’re still struggling to give up? (Galatians 5:19-21)
Before listing the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, Paul reminds his readers that sin is real. A lifestyle of sin will prevent us from inheriting the kingdom of God. All Christians should have a goal of eliminating sin. This is not an attempt to gain salvation through our own personal purity. Rather, we recognise that true transformation into the image of Christ must involve the pursuit of holiness.
The difficulty with this step is that many Christians don’t have specific sins we struggle with. We might claim to be imperfect sinners, but when asked what sin we’re working to eliminate from our lives we don’t have an answer. The more we spiritually mature, the more aware we grow of our shortcomings. Awareness is the first step to overcoming these struggles and temptations. Hopefully, our score card would show different struggles over the years reflecting victories over sin.
2. On a positive note, “Is your life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit described in Gal. 5:22-26?”
It’s not as though Galatians 5:22-23 contain the only list of virtues in the New Testament. (We could just as well compare our lives to the catalogue of virtues in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 or 1 Peter 1:5-9, amongst others.) But it’s as good a starting point as any. This is a fairly simple step that involves listing the fruits in a column and then grading yourself on a scale of 1-10 how prominent each fruit is in your life. Again, our scores will hopefully rise over time.
3. How are you doing with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20?
Although the items listed in the previous two steps have a lot to do with our interactions with others, they can still give the impression that our “score” is all about introspection and a conversation between God and myself. But God never intended for his people to be navel gazing hermits. Not even praying navel gazing hermits. God wants his people to be interacting with those around them sharing his love and his Gospel, making disciples.
Sharing our faith needs to be an important part of our Christian journey. There are various elements to this Commission and we won’t necessarily be doing all of them at once. The first step is Go. Some of us will go further than others, but we all need to leave our comfort zone for the benefit of others. The second step is declaring the Good News of forgiveness, leading to baptism. The third step is the ongoing sharing of Christ’s teachings with the new convert.
Which of these three stages is your strength? How active are you in this area? What do you need to do in the next 12 months to improve your fulfillment of the Great Commission?
I hope you find these suggestions helpful!
- What is a time of self examination like for you? Is it something that takes a week of recurring thoughts, or do you need a quite room for a couple of hours?
- Can you think of additional areas of the Christian walk that could or should be evaluated regularly?
- Which of the 3 steps I listed above do you find the most challenging?