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Goals for growing in Christ-likeness

Goals for growing in Christ-likeness

What are your goals for the New Year? To make good and steady progress in life this year and in the succeeding years, we need to do two things:


a) Think through and review our life in the past year- the successes and failures, and what factors contributed to them. It has been said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
b) Set reasonably challenging and achievable goals in the various departments of our lives, including our devotion to Christ, our marriage and family life, our Church life, our business or work life, and our social networks and community life. 

If “we fail to plan” for good success in these areas of our lives, then “we are planning to fail”. But you sure want to experience some good success in knowing the Biblical Majestic God, and in your authentic Biblical Christian faith and practice. 
To experience a healthier marital life, and to have good success in your work and business life, you have to set specific goals in each of these areas and work hard to achieve them. Regular pursuit of these goals will be part of your steps to achieving good success.

Next, we will focus our discussion on setting goals in one area of growth: in knowing Christ Jesus more deeply, in “growing in every way more and more like Christ” and helping others to experience new life in Christ, and be built up better into authentic true Christ-like nature. To properly grow in Christ-likeness, you must pay attention to the following considerations:
There are Historical Christian spiritual practices that fuel the process of the believer’s spiritual formation. How does one practise to become more spiritually mature and more Christ-like in character? What outcomes may lead me to the throne of God more easily than others? 

How do I make progress in the process of growing in every way more and more like Christ? Certainly, it is the Holy Spirit, who is the supreme agent of spiritual formation. And the proper and adequate practice of the Christian spiritual disciplines is the fuel of spiritual formation. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12b & 13).

Prof. Dallas Willard explains the co-working of God’s grace is the work of His Holy Spirit and our personal effort and action: “True character transformation begins in the pure grace of God, and is continually assisted by it. Very well. But personal action is also indispensable in making the Christian truly a different person, one who has a new life within. Failure to act in certain definite ways will guarantee that this transformation does not come to pass.”

Dr Nick Taylor writes: “The Spiritual disciplines will assist us: to grow relationally with God; to overcome sin; to gain spiritual insight and direction; and to love our neighbour as ourselves”.

The question is, “How do we grow more and more like Christ?”
First, the Holy Spirit is the Chief Agent in the process of making the believer Christ-like. Second, the word of God is the major building block in forming us into Christ-likeness. Third, the spiritual disciplines are the essential “vehicles” that the Holy Spirit uses to grow us to become, in every way, more and more like Christ.

There are four (4) key spiritual disciplines to consider:
a) The discipline of “Abiding in God’s word.”
b) The discipline of “Prayer and Fasting.”
c) The discipline of “Chastity” (or Practical holy living).
d) The discipline of “Charity”
Let’s discuss these four key spiritual disciplines:

a) The discipline of “Abiding in God’s word”. The Bible says that all of God’s word is profitable or most useful “for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16b ESV). God’s word is the main building block in Christ-like character formation. So, we are to regularly and consistently read the Bible daily, study it, meditate on it, memorise it and obey or practise what it says. Thus, Personal Daily Quiet Time for Bible reading is critical. Small Group Bible study is essential. Receiving sound Bible preaching and teaching in a large group or congregational context is important. It is like becoming Christ-like through daily and weekly instalments!

We are to properly study God’s word and “seek to think and behave biblically in every situation we face”. Set some specific goals for your daily devotional reading of the Bible and for participating in Small Group Bible Studies
b) The discipline of “Prayer and Fasting.” Learn to pray biblically. Indeed, the disciples asked Jesus - “teach us to pray.” He gave them a pattern of how to pray effectively (see Matthew 6:9-13). Pray daily. Learn to talk with God freely in your own words - worship Him; ask His forgiveness for your sin and wrongdoing; present specific requests to Him. Tell Him your heart’s desires. Also, learn to pray the Psalms and the prayers in the New Testament.

Learn to practise fasting - perhaps weekly, or as and when necessary (see Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8). The Lord Jesus promises to answer our prayer: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7 NLT). Set specific goals for regular Prayer and Fasting.
When we give ourselves regularly and consistently to the practice of these spiritual disciplines, we will grow more and more like Christ.
We wish you a happy and blessed New Year in which you grow more and more like Christ.

(The author is a consultant in Authentic Spirituality and Discipleship and former CEO of Scripture Union)

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