Just because we don’t feel holy doesn’t mean the Spirit isn’t making us holy. Feelings aren’t an adequate barometer of spiritual growth, but the gospel always leads us into growth. Bank your growth on faith in gospel truth, not in subjective feelings.
2. We have trouble seeing incremental growth.
If you checked the growth of an orange on a tree each day until it was ripe, you would not perceive its change; however, if you checked it only at its inception and conclusion, the growth would be obvious. You can grow without seeing it. More often than not, the Spirit grows us in increments, not leaps and bounds.
3. Spiritual growth is relative but real.
Depending on the person and season, spiritual growth may be fast or slow. Some of us have sinned so much that we have deeply ingrained patterns of believing lies instead of the truth, and so it takes longer to make progress in the faith. On top of this, we may have emotional, physical, or psychological conditions that make it more difficult to grow. However, these conditions are appointed for our growth. Many Christians have shown us how to grow in the midst of these difficulties (Joni Eareckson Tada, William Cowper). Spiritual growth is relative but real. True faith brings about true change. For some people, running a 5-minute mile is growth; for others, facing the finish line is progress. Remember that it is not growth overnight but gradations over a lifetime.
4. Our church family doesn’t encourage one another enough.
As the church, it is important that we point out and celebrate growth in one another’s lives. We are so individualistic, proud, and insecure that we rarely celebrate growth in another person’s life. Make a habit of pointing out growth you see in others, and celebrate God’s grace. Be a good church family.
5. God is using trial and temptation to grow us.
Just because growth is hard doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. Trial and temptation is often a sign of God’s work in our circumstances to draw us away from the fleeting promises of sin into the sweeter promises of grace. Allow trial and temptation to push you closer to God, not away from him. Difficult things often indicate God’s presence, not his absence. He disciplines those whom he loves.