On Spiritual Growth
I have been reading and studying for a few years now in the area of spiritual formation and spiritual direction. I have now come to a firmer conclusion that I have held loosely for years.
True spiritual growth does not happen by chance. Growth happens intentionally and purposefully. Sad to say, many believers in Christ, do not progress on their spiritual journey because they don’t have the necessary tools or understanding to move forward.
I recently read Teresa of Avila’s 4 blockage in spiritual progression:
# 1. A Carelessness about Sin
Here the admonishment is about paying close attention to our words, conduct, thoughts, and actions. Ralph Martin: “Making a decision never to freely choose to commit even a small sin is an important turning point in our spiritual journey.”
# 2. Not avoiding the Near Occasions of Sin
We too often fall back into the same sin(s) and end up spinning our spiritual wheels. We excuse our sin, plus we refuse to remove ourselves and our sin tendency from the temptation source. Sometimes the source is the TV, certain people, certain activities that create an opportunity to sin.
# 3. Self-Reliance
We need to settle this once and for all—left by ourselves we will get no where in our spiritual lives. We need to be totally God-reliant. Here are Teresa’s words: “I give you one counsel; that you don’t think that through your own strength or efforts you can arrive, for reaching this stage is beyond your power; if you try to reach it, the devotion you have will grow cold.”
# 4. Not Valuing the Graces of God
What she means by this is the promptings of the Spirit of God. These are moments when we know the voice of the Lord is telling us to pray, read the Bible, visit a lonely person, bake a cake for a neighbour. We need instant and ready obedience to these promptings. Ralph Martin: “Frances De Sales defines the nature of the devout life as being characterized by a frequent, careful, and prompt response to the will of God and His inspirations.”