Meanderings of a Minister


How to Know if You Are Growing by Jonah
June 2, 2016, 12:08 pm
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Dr. Mark Yarbrough, in his book, How to Read the Bible Like a Seminary Professor, does a fantastic job of analyzing books of the Bible that most of us would look at and say, “Been there.  Done that.  I don’t need to read that book again.  I got it.”  He looks into the books through careful observation, expertly interprets the text, and then applies it to life through faithful and carefully constructed applications.  In addition, he teaches us to do the same.

In reading through Dr. Yarbrough’s book, I came across the following excerpt and found it quite thought-provoking when analyzing my own walk with Christ.

“A life that is growing spiritually:

  • Move towards God’s commands, not away from them (Jonah 1:1-3)
  • Shows a consistency between words and works (Jonah 1:4-9)
  • Exhibits a testimony to the nonbelieving world – not the reverse (Jonah 1:10-17)
  • Confesses sin – not pious words of religiosity (Jonah 2:1-10)
  • Responds to God in humility, not in arrogance and pride (Jonah 3:1-10)
  • Extends grace to and rejoices in the maturity of others (Jonah 4:1)
  • Strives to love as God loves (Jonah 4:2-4)
  • Evaluates the heart, removing that which hinders service or perspective (Jonah 4:5-8)
  • Is concerned about people, not things (Jonah 4:9-11a)
  • Is concerned about “that great city” (Jonah 4:11b)”

As I think through this list, I am challenged to ask myself how I measure up to the actions for sure, but more than that, the attitudes it takes to generate those actions genuinely.  For instance, 1 John 5:3 says the way we love God is to obey his commands and those commands are not seen as a burden.  I hope that I will always strive to live out the faith God has given me, but the question is not so much about the activity, but about the attitude.  Do I serve God out of gratitude, love, appreciation?  Or do I serve Him hoping it will somehow earn me some grace or some consideration?

As a pastor, I am really challenged to ask if my words match my actions…even when no one else is paying attention!  Am I sharing my testimony about God with the world, or am I more influenced by the world’s view of God?  When I confess my sins, is it because I am broken over how I could soil the Name of God with my filth and fallenness?  Or do I confess my sins because it is what I have been trained to do?  Do I really even give any thought to who or Who that sin has affected?

As you go through the rest of the list, how would you say your life is growing spiritually?  Do you see ever-increasing evidence of God’s grace resulting in more and deeper and greater maturity being displayed outside the church building as well as inside?  On top of these markers, do you hunger for more of God?  Do you hunger to know Him better?  Do you jump at every opportunity to study His Word, serve His people, and share His story?

I hope that you can answer a resounding, “YES!” to each of these questions.  If you can’t, what will you change today, now, right this minute?  Will you pray and surrender your rights to God and beg Him to change your heart, mind, body, and soul?  Will you do something different today?  Will you put off lunch and read God’s Word?  Will you turn off the TV and call a friend to share about what God is doing in their life?  Will you get off of Facebook and get your face in a book that can help you grow?  If not, why not?  What does that mean?

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