How long has it been since you did a reassessment of your life in general, and your spiritual life in particular? Study after study has shown that taking some time each day to simply think, reevaluate and plan will have a significant positive impact on your life. Those who engage in these activities, almost without exception, lead more successful and satisfied lives. The vast majority of us won’t engage in these activities even once a year, much less every day. As the saying goes, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. In other words, without reflection and redirection, growth will be excruciatingly slow at best and more than likely will be non-existent.
We all want to lead lives of excellence and feel like we’re making a difference in the world. Followers of Jesus take this to a whole different level as they seek to live a life that looks like that of Christ. One cannot achieve a Christ-like life without consistent and noticeable growth. Jesus stood out; wherever He went, people took notice. Because of the words He said and the things He did, Jesus drew attention to God and His glory. If that description does not match that of our lives, then we still have plenty of opportunity for growth. The question then becomes, “How do we achieve growth in Christ?” Finding good teachers, listening to powerful sermons or reading something challenging and encouraging are all good steps. However, head knowledge alone will not produce the radical growth for which we are looking. A relationship with God is an intimately personal relationship, so ultimately the growth we seek must come from within us and through His power.
Since the Spirit of God lives in those who trust in Him and follow Him, the power of Jesus is readily available to change you from the inside out. Reflection is a great means of tapping into this power. Take some time (fifteen minutes to an hour each day) to prayerfully look back over your day, your week and your life. In what ways have you successfully reflected the love of Jesus? In what ways have you failed to shine for Him? When have you felt the closest to God, and when have you felt the furthest away? What have you done that made you feel like you were successfully following after Him and what have you done that resulted in you falling away? Examine your answers honestly; this is only between you and God. It is often helpful to write down what you discover so in the future you can more easily look back over your life. After gathering the information, plan out your next day, week and month. Determine which things you need to do more of, or to what areas you need to give greater focus. By the same token, make certain you identify and cease doing those things that have negatively impacted your walk up to this point in your life. In reflecting over your past day or week, is there someone to whom you need to say “I’m sorry” and ask their forgiveness? Were there situations in which you overreacted and hurt someone else over something trivial? Go to that person and ask forgiveness. Forgive those who hurt you and realize that by so doing you are becoming more Christ-like. Perhaps nothing grows our faith more quickly than the asking for and the giving of forgiveness.
We can’t grow if we don’t know where we’ve been and who we’re becoming. Jesus often withdrew to be alone and pray. We should follow His model and use this time alone to allow Him to work in us so He might help shape us into who we were created to be. It’s a simple discipline that yields tremendous results. We take the time to get routine checkups for our dying physical bodies; is it not even more important to take the time for regular checkups of our eternal soul? Start with just fifteen minutes a day, perhaps when you first get up or right before you go to bed. Get alone with God, be still and reflect. I guarantee you will be amazed at how much this simple exercise will do to stimulate your growth. Jesus wants nothing more than for you to become who He created you to be. Take some time each day to make certain you are moving towards that goal.