No judgment.

Yes, grace and growth

Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to your word. When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes. Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. (Psalm 119:24-28)

“Have you been reading your Bible?”
“What have you read today?”
“How are you praying?”
“What are you praying about?”
“If you are able to worship, are you doing so—weekly?”
“How has your experience of worship been lately?”
To some people, questions like these might seem intrusive. “It’s between me and God,” some might say. To others, these questions might seem critical. “Don’t judge me,” some might think.

When I, your pastor, ask such questions, it is not because I am nosey or judgmental. It is out of real concern and care that I inquire about your spiritual practices. And these three things, Scripture reading, prayer and worship, are obvious ways in which we grow spiritually. A least that is what the Christian tradition has claimed for the last 2000 years. These are the ways we build our relationship with God. These are the ways in which we are reminded about God’s creative goodness. These are the ways we learn about the Savior, Jesus Christ. These are the ways we hear about God’s saving, healing, accepting and forgiving grace. Oh, there may be other ways in which unusual people have connected to God. It could be that someone might have a worship experience in the tree stand or on the golf course, but more likely you would be thinking about the next buck or your next putt. You would not be thinking about the God of love who has revealed his grace through Jesus Christ. But too many think they are the exception to the normal ways, and they fail even to try those ways which have proven true for centuries of believers before them.

If people were honest about what they were doing and genuine in their desire to grow, then we could work together to minimize impediments and to develop better reading, prayer and worship habits. And through those habits you could grow a deeper, wider and more resilient faith. The world can be a difficult, cruel and painful place. We are continually afflicted by the sin, death and evil. To help see us through, we need the resources of faith, hope and love, more and more, and certainly no less as we age.

So, the next time the pastor asks about your spiritual practices, after your moment of surprise, embarrassment or defensiveness, calm and center yourself, and consider answering frankly and honestly. If you want to grow your faith, these are ways to do it.

The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes. You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Before I was humbled I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. (Psalm 119:64-68)

Share this with your friends: