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August 7, 2017

We came across many people in our wilderness journey and each one was a lesson for us. Each time we were betrayed, hated, despised or lied about gave us an opportunity to see into the heart of that person as well as ourselves. Each time we were blessed, helped, cared for and loved we also saw into the heart of the other person. God wasted nothing as He taught us about 'self' and spirit through these interactions. Eventually we learned from God about three spiritual basics that will tell us if a person is growing up into spiritual maturity or not. The presence of these three basics means that the person is growing and their absence means the opposite.

The first basic we recognized as being crucial for spiritual growth was humility. Seems like a simple thing but we found it to be very, very rare. Humility brings down pride in ourselves and allows us to hear God. God Himself is humble and so if we are to be like Him we too need to be humble. It is not as easy as it sounds. Growing in humility starts with making decisions that don't feel good because it hurts our pride. Oftentimes those decisions also make us look bad in front of others as well as it hurts their pride. These decisions for humility are counter to how our world works but then the whole world is counter to God. So start by making decisions that bring down pride in your life and you will find humility beginning to grow. As Wanda likes to say, "Go lower than the strife" which means when conflict comes, humble yourself, say you are sorry. This is a great start in your journey to spiritual maturity.

The second basic we found is necessary for spiritual maturity is self-sacrifice. This is also very, very rare in our world today that puts so much emphasis on self. If you ever wondered why God put such an emphasis on sacrifices in the Old Testament wonder no longer. From the very beginning He has been trying to teach us that to give up, to self-sacrifice, is very important to spiritual growth. David said once that he would not give to God "that which costs me nothing." We ignore his words to our peril. Too often in our journey we heard many words from people and sometimes they would help us with finances or other resources. Very few people actually gave us something that really cost them. It was sad to see for these people missed the blessing that comes from giving, truly giving, of oneself for another. Try looking today for ways to give what is precious to you, that which costs you something, to those who are needy.

The third basic we found that is critical for spiritual growth is empathy. Strange as it seems empathy is extremely rare in our society. Some people were nice to us on our journey but that is not empathy. Empathy means we enter in to another person's situation. It means we walk with that person, giving of ourselves and loving them more than ourselves. This is not easy to do and we had to be trained in it. Each difficulty we went through led us to deeper understanding of what the poor and homeless go through. We had to choose to give up 'self' each time and think of others instead of what we needed even when we needed food, warmth and shelter. We found a few people that had been through hardship but it had turned to bitterness in their lives and the sour fruit came out at us. It wasn't nice to go through that. Take the time to understand what another person is going through and 'enter in' to help them. It will cost you something but the reward is greater, much greater, than anything you could ever imagine.

I would encourage you today to talk to God about these three basics of spiritual maturity. If you are serious about your faith then pray and ask Him to start bringing out these three basics in your life. You won't like the lessons, I can guarantee it, but if you stick with Him and don't quit you will grow up. if you succeed He will take you into the wilderness and grow you into a mature son or daughter and give you Himself!

God bless you,