A preacher was teaching a children’s Bible school class and was attempting to illustrate the meaning of “miracle.” “Boys and girls,” he said, “suppose I stood on the roof of a ten-story building, lost my balance and fell off. Then all of a sudden, in midair, a whirlwind swept me up and brought me safely to the ground. Now what word would you use to describe this?” The children thought for a moment, then a boy raised his hand and said, “Luck?” “Well, that’s true,” said the preacher, “but that’s not the word I wanted. Listen to the story again: There I am on top of the ten-story building again, and I fall. A whirlwind catches me in midair and places me safely on the ground. Think now – what word would describe the situation?” One girl spoke up, “Accident.” “No, no,” answered the minister. “Listen carefully for the third time. I’m on the same building, I fall and am swept to safety by a sudden whirlwind. What word could account for my safely reaching the ground?” All at once the class shouted: “Practice!”
You and I know that still wasn’t the point of his illustration, but what the children saw was important. If we keep working at something, sooner or later we’ll get better at it, even if it’s falling down. The more we practice something, the more we’ll grow in our understanding, ability and confidence.
In order for us to grow in our spiritual lives, we must keep putting into practice the fundamentals of the faith (Heb. 5:12-14; II Pet. 3:18). Of course, we’ll never be flawless (Rom. 3:23; I John 1:6-9), but we can be confident the Lord will be pleased with our progress (II Peter 1:10-11).
1. Bible Study. Study the Scriptures with interest and learn all you can about God’s Book (II Tim. 2:15; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:105). And, be sure to put into practice the principles you learn from Scripture (James 1:21-25). Greater knowledge is the source of growth (I Peter 2:1, 2).
2. Prayer. Those who are new disciples must learn from the Lord how to pray (Luke 11:1). Our prayers are to be an ongoing expression of our complete dependence upon God and need for His strength to enable us to grow (Eph. 6:10; Luke 18:1; I Thess. 5:17).
3. Worship. The primary purpose of our worship is to glorify God (John 4:24). However, each one who participates in worshipping Him sincerely and in the fashion set out in His word is going to be strenthened and edified by it (I Cor. 14:26). If we do not faithfully worship God and involve ourselves in the fellowship of His people, we are going to grow weaker spiritually (Heb. 10:25; cf. I Cor. 11:30).
4. Evangelism. Every Christian ought to see himself as a missionary (Mark 16:15; Acts 8:4). Whether we deliver a message from behind a pulpit, or show kindness to others throughout the day, we should be teaching others by the way we demonstrate our Christianity (Matt. 5:16). The more we practice this, the more we’ll grow.
5. Making good decisions. God created each one of us with the power and freedom to choose our actions (Joshua 24:15). If we merely go along with what most others are thinking and doing around us, without reflecting on whether it’s the wisest way to go, we will still be responsible for our behavior (Matt. 7:13-14). As we take initiative to live intentionally for God, our decision-making ability and discernment will continue to improve (see Heb. 5:13-14; I Cor. 14:20; I Peter 2:3).