In the middle seventies when the running craze was in full bloom, a news article covered the story of a man in New York who was selling “Running Certificates.” The certificate affirmed that the man was “doing the running” for others. I’m like you. I wonder about the seriousness of such thinking. Obviously, no one can do your running for you. Neither can you hire someone to do your pushups for you. Some things for you can’t be done someone else.
We live in an age when hiring others to do certain chores, of every kind, is very popular. There are TV commercials offering lists you can subscribe to in order to find qualified persons to do tasks for you.
Osmosis has made a subtle but powerful appearance in the church. Osmosis is “an apparently effortless absorption of ideas, feelings, attitudes, etc. Some Christians seem to think, or at least act like they believe, that personal spiritual growth can happen by exposure or “hiring the preacher” to do it for them.
As a Christian you are 100 percent responsible for your spiritual growth. This is documented in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:11-15:
And He himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some
Evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of
The saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge
Of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature
Of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed
To and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the
Trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but,
Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
I once heard a preacher say, “Sitting in a chicken house won’t make you a chicken…sitting in a church house won’t make you a Christian.” This may be somewhat crude, but true.
The apostle Peter commands each Christian to do his or her on adding: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, ADD TO YOUR FAITH virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
We can “hire” someone to teach us, preach to us, and read to us. We can even “hire” someone to show us how to do spirituality, but we can’t hire someone to grow our personal spirituality. It is our task alone.
We can read the word, take notes about the word, believe the word, but that doesn’t DO the word, which is what we are commanded to do. James wrote, “Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness and RECEIVE with meekness the IMPLANTED word, which is able to save your souls. But be DOERS of the WORD, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:21, 22).
Some Spiritual Things No one Can Do for You
Let’s think about some practical applications of our personal responsibility to grow spiritually:
- No one can take the Lord’s Supper for us.
- No one can do our singing for us (Ephesians 5:19).
- No one can do our praying without ceasing for us (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- No one can memorize the Bible for us (Psalm 119:11).
- No one can have the attitude of Christ for us. (Philippians 2:4-9).
- No one can attend worship services for us (Hebrews 10: 24, 25).
- No one can do our visiting for us (James 1:27).
- No one will be judged for us (Hebrews 9:27)
- No one can intentionally do the word for us (James 1:21, 22).
- No one can grow spiritually for us (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- No one can walk by faith for us (2 Corinthians 4:7).
- No one can love for us (John 13:34, 35).
- No one can be obedient for us (Hebrews 5:8, 9).
- No one can go to heaven for us (John 14:1-6).
This list of Christian attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors could go on and on, but these should confirm that we can’t “hire” or “deputize” someone to grow spiritually for us.
It’s amazing that we know how to plan for financial growth, intellectual growth, and growth in other areas of life, but when it comes to planning for personal spiritual growth we neglect the most important growth area of all. Growing spiritually requires the setting of spiritual goals, most of which are revealed in God’s word.
The goal of spiritual growth is simple—GROW INTO CHRIST-LIKENESS. But the goal is not easy or a piece of cake. It requires commitment and intentional actions.
What is your plan to grow spiritually?