7. A failure to use the right criteria to measure spiritual growth: We wrongly assume that because our protges are involved in Bible study, memorizing Scripture, having a Quiet Time, etc., they are growing. The Pharisees also studied the Scriptures, prayed and witnessed, yet they were accused of hypocrisy by Jesus. (Jn. 5:39, 49; Matt. 6:5; 23:15; 23)
May I suggest a more Biblical approach to accessing spiritual growth: These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13:13b)
Faith – Resting in the character of God. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Lk. 18:8b; Heb. 11:6)
Is your disciple choosing to believe and apply Gods word to his life without equivocation, whatever the cost or circumstances? (Jos. 1:8; Deut. 5:29, 32,33; 6:1-3; Matt. 7:24; Jms. 1:22 25)
Is he claiming and applying Gods promises to his life? (2 Cor. 1:20; Heb. 6:12; 10:36; 11:17, 33)
Do you see him developing healthy patterns of faith over greed, fear, lust, etc? (Lk. 12:15; 2 Tim. 1:7; Phil. 4:6,7)
Hope – Maintaining an eternal focus: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secureEveryone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (Heb. 6:19a; I Jn. 3:3) (See Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 1:9,10; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Pet. 1:21)
Determine the direction of his hope: Is he squandering his life on the temporal, or investing it in the eternal? One way to make that determination is to observe how he utilizes his time, talent and resources. [Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward…Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Heb. 11:25, 26; Col. 3:1-3) (See Rom. 8:24, 25; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:7)
What is the object of his passion? His investments? Golf? Or knowing God and accomplishing His mission for His glory? Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain ChristI consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Phil. 3:7, 8; Act. 20:24) (See Eph. 1;17, 18; 3:18, 19; Phil. 3:10; Col. 2:2,3; 2 Pet. 3:18; Jn. 4:34; I Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Heb. 12:1-3)
Love: – Loving people as Jesus loved: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friendsDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Jn. 13:34,35; 15:13) (See 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 4:5; Gal. 5:13-15; Eph. 5:3; Phil. 2:3, 4; 1 Thes. 3:12) .
Is your disciples life increasingly characterized by loving service over selfish indulgence?