“The Goal of Spiritual Growth”

First in the series: A Healthy Spirituality for Our Time

Philippians 1:1-11

The Philippian church was a joyful church.  Of all the churches Paul founded, it seemed to give him the least trouble and the most satisfaction. So, his letter to the Philippians is a letter of joy, brimming over with expressions of gratitude and affection and love.

At the beginning of his letter, Paul says, “I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers.  I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy.  I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now.”

I can identify with Paul’s joy and gratitude. I give thanks with joy for you, the members of First Church, and am grateful to be a partner with you “in the ministry of the gospel.”

The foundation of a healthy spirituality is gratitude. Not only in Philippians, but in his other letters, Paul constantly expresses gratitude.  The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is ‘thank you’ that would be sufficient.”

Through these opening verses of Philippians, I’m beginning a series entitled “A Healthy Spirituality for Our Time.”

What do we mean by “spirituality?” What is a “healthy” spirituality? Perhaps an even more important question is Why do we need a healthy spirituality? What is the goal of “spiritual growth,” especially in this trying time we’re in?

That is the question that begins this series.

Paul says, “I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.” He then states what the goal of the good work is that he is praying for:

“This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.”

So, our goal of spiritual healthy is a goal with four parts:

  • To make your love become more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight.
  • To be able to decide that really matters.
  • To be sincere and blameless.
  • To be filled with the fruit of righteousness and give glory and praise to God.

Perhaps now, more than any other time—at least in our lifetimes—we need this kind of healthy spirituality.  We need it as individuals, but we also need it as a society and even as a global community.

When you think of spirituality, what comes to your mind?  Some people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.”  What do you think they mean?  What spiritual practices do you find meaningful?

I look forward to sharing with you this Sunday morning through our online Sanctuary worship service at 11:00 am at fumcfw.org/live.

Grace and Peace,

 

Philippians 1:1-11 (CEB)

From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.

To all those in Philippi who are God’s people in Christ Jesus, along with your supervisors and servants.

May the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Thanksgiving and prayer

I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10 I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11 I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God.

 

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