If I want to see progress in my spiritual life, I must first assess my present condition. Once I start being honest, I become more aware of the hindrances that slow me down. This usually paves the way for me to mature faster in my walk with God.
During my years in the corporate world, our team reviewed the progress of our business annually, quarterly, and monthly. Those meetings were tough (especially when targets weren’t met!), yet necessary.
We gathered sales reports to answer the first question needed to be asked:
What is the present condition of our business?
Similar to my spiritual walk, an honest and tough personal assessment is needed. It may be hard and painful. But spiritual maturity is the prize that awaits me.
Personal Assessment through the “Parable of the Four Soils”
Jesus taught this in Luke 8:3ff. This story helps me begin that process. It talks about a farmer planting seeds. As he scattered the seeds, they fell on different types of soil. This led to mixed results.
Jesus described here 4 groups of people. The way a person receives God’s word greatly affects the spiritual condition he’ll be in. I’m able to apply that parable to myself.
Here are four spiritual conditions (all start with the letter “D”):
1. DOUBT: I don’t believe or understand God’s word
These were the seeds that fell on hard path, which didn’t have a chance to grow. This compares to the times when I hear about God’s goodness and promises.
Yet, I doubt if God will keep His promises or answer my prayers.
When I’m in this condition, I remind myself that God’s word is 100% true and reliable. His promises are proven in my life and throughout biblical history.
Joshua said this at the end of his life…
14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (Joshua 23:14)
2. DISCOURAGED: I’m losing my joy in the Lord because of life’s circumstances
These were the seeds that fell on rocky ground, which started out growing very fast yet eventually withered. This compares to the times when trials come my way and persecutions are harsher than usual. I even question God why He is allowing this to happen.
When I’m in this condition, I remind myself that God can use any situation for good. It can also be the opportunity for God to show His greatness, in His perfect time. This helps me know Him more intimately.
One of my favorite verses is:
Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
3. DISTRACTED: I’m less fruitful for God’s work because of worries and concerns
These were the seeds that fell among the thorns, which grew but eventually got choked. This compares to the times when worries caught up on me. This made me lose sight of God and the work that He wanted me to accomplish.
When I’m in this condition, I force myself to schedule a time alone with God in prayer. I pour out my heart to God with much honesty. He then gently rebukes me. Distraction is replaced with rearranging my priorities and trusting in Him more.
God always gives me peace when I pray to Him. He promised that in:
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. DEVELOPING: I’m growing in my intimacy with God, and being fruitful for Him
These were the seeds that fell on good soil, which grew and multiplied exponentially. This compares to the times when I disciplined myself to hear God’s word and fully obey it. The perseverance brought about so many opportunities to be fruitful in blessing others.
When I’m in this condition, I share to others my stories of perseverance and why it’s worth it. I do this with the hope of encouraging them to do the same.
John 15:5 is the key verse to remember:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
It has always been beneficial to me when I stop, reflect and be honest with my spiritual condition. Go ahead and assess yourself. Take the first few steps I mentioned. I believe it will greatly help you be a fruitful Christ-follower.
Posted on: September 8, 2014
What condition have you mostly been in lately? What first step do you plan to do? How can I pray for you?