In his book, The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg made a great observation:
“How is your spiritual life going?”
I used to answer this question by looking at the state of my devotional activities: Did I pray and read the Bible enough today? The problem is that by this measure the Pharisees always win. People can be very disciplined, but remain proud and spiteful. How do we measure spiritual growth so that the Pharisees don’t win?
I asked a wise man, “How do you assess the well-being of your soul?”
He immediately said, “I ask myself two questions”:
- Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?
- Am I growing more easily irritated these days?
At the core of a flourishing soul are the love of God and the peace of God. If peace is growing in me, I am less easily discouraged. If love is growing in me, I am less easily irritated.
I would add a couple more thoughts to Ortberg’s ideas:
- Am I becoming less generous?
How willing we are to share our possessions, time, finances, etc. says a lot about how closely we’re walking with the Lord and how much we trust Him and His provision. If I’m being stingy — regardless of my current financial status, am I really trusting God?
- Am I becoming less caring toward others — especially brothers and sisters in Christ?
Years ago, my pastor told me that our horizontal relationships in the Church are a barometer of our relationship with God. If I am reticent to be caring toward other people, it’s a good indicator that something may be amiss in my walk with the Lord.
Please keep in mind that these are not hard and fast rules, but more of a diagnostic tool. Used as such, they can be very worthwhile.
So … how’s your spiritual life going?