Conrad Tolosa |

On my birthday it had occurred to me that for some reason people assume that as you get older you also become a more mature Christian.  But you obviously haven’t seen me wear my Star Trek uniform to church.

The problem is that growth is associated with time.  The more time you have to interact with scripture and the more you go to church, the more of it you eventually understand and put into practice.

That possibly would be the case if you neglect some important elements – namely the three enemies of the believer, which are: the flesh, Satan, and the world.

We forget that – sin can grow as well.

And with our flesh, Satan and the world competing against our spiritual growth, it is a constant battle.

Battles cannot be won by merely showing up on the battlefield and hanging around for as long as possible.

If you have strengths, the enemy will look for a weakness.  If you focus on one weakness, then it will look for another.

And let’s not fool ourselves, it’s not like our spiritual lives are this strong defensive fortress with many solid walls and only a few weak points…

…it’s more like we’re trying to defend an open field, with roads leading to it, with convenient parking, and group discounts.

From the moment we awake we deal with family stress, financial stress, laziness, stupid neighbors, annoying bosses, traffic, weird church people, car troubles, bills, politics, lust, anger, ambivalence, selfishness, lack of self-control with food or emotions, pride and the list goes on and on.  And in my case, it’s not really a list, but rather a library.

Every single situation we’re in during the day is some sort of battle.  We can either fight to gain ground, or do nothing and lose ground.  Or even worse, we can be active participants in the battle against ourselves.

RO 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. [22] For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; [23] but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging waragainst the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Growth isn’t just a battle – it’s a war.

You can win a battle here and there, but it needs to be apart of a larger goal.  To take a country, to progress, you need to go deeper and deeper into their territory with a defined goal.

So what do we do?

Take some of the more universal verses and make them your goal.

Your goals could be verses like “in everything give thanks,” “count it all joy,” “love your enemies,” “trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Everyday apply those more in your life by being intentional – by actually hearing a verse in your head while you act on it – by finding your weaknesses and working on them.

Stick with a couple things at a time for an extended amount of time.  Pray about it each night. Have family or friends help you out.

The point is – actually work on it, make progress, don’t just randomly change battles – fighting one front one day, the next day fighting another.

We’ve all seen an older Christian who has been a Christian forever but still complains about everything and falls apart when things go wrong.  Maybe they just kept fighting little random battles here and there but never win the war.

Let’s not allow ourselves to lose ground, or never gain ground – but rather grab hold of God’s commands in the form of verses and allow these to be our marching orders, our goal in the war.

Only when we understand that we’re in a war, will we be able to fight… and ultimately… grow.

1 Timothy 6: 11b Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Take Time To Pray: Ask God to help you identify your weaknesses so that you might be able to defend yourself better, and to find some appropriate verses for you to make your goal so that you can grow spiritually.

Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness.  Faithfulness to join the fight daily.