There’s a little passage in John that describes how we bear fruit as believers. It says that in order to grow, we are pruned. We’d all love to be closer to God, but there’s work to do and branches to be cut back first. This is the passage that I think is a great metaphor for spiritual growth.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
John 15:1-4, NLT
My husband took a look at what I was writing about and called it “the trimming phase.” God trims our branches back through trials, suffering, and disciplining us too. Simply remaining in Him is one of the hardest things about the life of a believer. But every difficulty we face is the opportunity to bear more fruit for Him, to choose Him and find joy even though we’re hurting.
Having a rich relationship with God is worth it! As I read the book of Luke this past month, my world was rocked with every new chapter. Luke taught me about what has true value. Not riches, money, worldly things, but God first and souls second. People are valuable. Following Christ is worth sacrificing every worldly thing. And a rich relationship with God is the best reward we could ever receive.
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Luke 12:21, NLT
This is the good news, not bad news. But it is convicting, isn’t it? I have prayed, repented, and received God’s forgiveness and grace as I read the book of Luke and God speaks to my heart. I’ve struggled with this idea and the application of it, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you.
Following Jesus means picking up our crosses and following him into new life. We sacrifice our selfish attitudes, our physical comforts, and our worldly ambitions in exchange for the super light burden that Jesus offers us. When considering all this, I came up with some tips on how to make our worldly lives a better reflection of our spiritual home.
I’m going to discuss two areas so that you can edit your life for spiritual growth: First, things to eliminate, and second, things to evaluate. Grab a cuppa and sit with me while we chat about growing spiritually.
Things to Eliminate for Spiritual Growth
1. Reducing Temptations
I’m starting off with my most important tip: Know your weaknesses and get rid of things that tempt you. No one is above sin, and every single person is tempted to sin. You’re deceiving yourself if you don’t think you struggle with temptation. Even Jesus did.
Not all of us feel as though we’re struggling with a “big” issue right now, but anything that keeps us from God is a big issue. Turning to things, technology, food, or other people for comfort and a sense of worth will only leave you hollow.
[bctt tweet=”Not all of us feel like we’re struggling with a big issue right now, but anything that keeps us from God is a big issue.” username=”cheeredonmom”]
So sit down and make a list of where your temptations are. You might be cringing, but just be honest. No one will see this but you.
Then pray about what you should get rid of, eliminate, reduce, or limit in order to avoid that sin. Remember to rely on God and not your own strength when it comes to temptations.
2. Reduce Your Stuff
Some of us, well, most of us, simply have too much STUFF. Since our goal here is to remove things that hinder our relationship with God, I’m focusing on how stuff can come between you and God.
If you’re surrounded by so much stuff that it’s a distraction, hindrance, and annoyance, it’s time to get out some trash bags. This is me too, ladies.
Since my family is out of the baby phase for the first time, we have sippy cups, bottles, rattles, and blocks that my kids no longer need. I have maternity clothes, a baby carrier, and a baby food blender that outgrew their usefulness a long time ago.
I also have plenty of random things that I’d like to get rid of: old makeup, magazines, and CDs that have got to go. If you’d like to see an example of a great way to get through your stuff, see Lindsay’s articles on organizing and backing up non-digital files and her decluttering update.
The spiritual benefits of reducing your physical clutter include:
- less distractions from Jesus
- reducing any “competition” for God
- opportunities for giving to the poor
Leaving behind the things of this world in pursuit of Christ is godly. Being willing to part with your wealth is always rewarded. I know it’s hard, but you can do it!
In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
3. Edit Your Children’s Toys
I’m a big believer in rotating toys to keep kids entertained. But taking it a step further, it’s also really helpful to get rid of the things your kids aren’t interested in, as well as things that may be hindering them from a relationship with God. Some examples might be electronics, apps, video games, and toys they have outgrown and can be shared with younger ones. Remember, you can donate!
One more category you’ve got to throw away right now is any toy or object in your home that has to do with the occult.
A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.
Acts 19:19, NLT
This goes for adults as well as kids, of course. But sometimes we just don’t see the evil in something simply because it’s designed for children.
While some toys are more obviously satanic than others, parents should be aware that just because it’s for kids doesn’t mean it’s innocent. Decide what you think is acceptable and trash anything that doesn’t meet the godly standards you’ve set. If it makes you uncomfortable, get rid of it. Fight that spiritual battle for your kids, moms!
4. Reduce activities for yourself and the kids
No one could successfully argue that activities teaching sportsmanship, coordination, and technical skills are bad for kids. Don’t worry, I’m not trying! But we do have a culture of glorifying busy-ness for ourselves and for our kids.
If your kids are simply too busy, you’ll know it. They won’t be able to keep up with it all, and neither will you. That kind of stress isn’t a badge of honor, it’s a mantle of high expectations and unrest.
Eliminate what you can from your family’s list of activities. It’s an easy thing for me to say, but I know it’s a really challenging thing to do. Just start by looking at your calendar. List the activities, sports, lessons, and groups that each member of the family is part of, and look at it.
Pray about what you can opt out of, and talk about it with the family. Remember that God asks us to rest, and it’s something the whole family should value and participate in.
Things to Evaluate for Spiritual Growth
1. How you spend your time
If you’re like me, your real currency is time. Even though my family isn’t too busy with activities, life is full of responsibilities, and every minute I spend is devoted to something.
Well, take some of that time to analyze your average day. You’ll be able to find pockets for Bible study, listening to a Christian podcast or a teaching, meeting a mentor, or well, you get the idea. It will also be much easier to see where you can make changes to how you spend your time if needed.
2. Spiritual benefits of your things
Think about whether the negotiable things in your life are benefiting you spiritually. Is it uplifting or helpful? You can ask yourself these questions while evaluating your stuff in order to edit your life for spiritual growth.
Everything has a purpose, so think about the purpose behind what you own. Do you agree with it? Is it helpful or uplifting? If it’s working against your spiritual growth, get rid of it.
You might discover you have a book collecting dust that you’d love to use. Grab that old devotional and incorporate it into your routine.
[bctt tweet=”Everything has a purpose, so think about the purpose behind what you own.” username=”cheeredonmom”]
3. Evaluate your relationships
Evaluate your friendships and family relationships. What can you do to improve those relationships? Is there one in particular that God is leading you to focus on right now?
Next, think about relationships that you might like to add to help your spiritual growth along. Maybe a mentor, a Bible study group, or just making time for a friend you already have could make a big difference.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, it’ll definitely be one to hinder your spiritual life. A toxic relationship includes unhealthy behaviors like selfishness, controlling actions, verbal or physical abuse, substance abuse, and more. I’m not an expert, but do some praying about how to remove yourself from the relationship if you’re in that spot.
4. What to add for transformation
The fun part at the end of this process is choosing what you want to add for spiritual growth. Once you’ve followed the steps above, it’s okay to bring something new in if it’s helpful.
What can you do to nourish your spiritual life? Could you add a study, participate in a church group, schedule a daily quiet time? Ask God what He’d like you to do next.
My Favorite Spiritual Growth Resources
- Bibles of all kinds, pick one you truly love
- Scripture cards from the Cheered On Mom shop
- 100 Days of Grace and Gratitude Devotional Journal
- Dayspring’s Inspirational Wall Art
- My Quiet Time planner (free!)
How I’m Editing My Life for Spiritual Growth
It’s my turn to go through this process step by step right along with you. I’m so eager to begin and work on growing my relationship with God in general. Plus, cleaning out my stuff is pretty appealing! The end result is going to feel so good.
I’ll keep you posted with an update on my progress over the next month. I hope you’re inspired and know that you don’t have to be perfect. Just keep on pursuing God with every step!