The first rule for spiritual development is to be open to truth. Without this, growth will be extremely unlikely. So if we want to develop properly, we need to accurately judge whether we are open to the truth so that we can make adjustments where necessary. One big problem with judging our openness is that we tend to fool ourselves. We can’t always trust our opinion because our mind can fool us. It often does.
- It’s how a woman ravaged by eating disorders can see her 95-pound body in a mirror and call herself “fat”.
- It’s why there are very few “guilty” people in prison. It’s always someone else’s fault.
- It’s why Al Capone thought of himself as a “good guy”.
- And it’s why you are not growing in Christ if you are stagnant.
We all have heard the saying that if you are not growing then you are dying. While true, that only serves to frighten us sometimes. How do we know if our hearts are developing properly? How do we know we are not simply fooling ourselves into thinking we are faithful? It’s not an easy question to answer.
The Difficulty in Answering the Question
It’s not easy to answer because there is no litmus test for development. Is there some way to know where any given human should be in his growth at any given time? There are no set of laws that once we have met them we have no other obligations for development. It’s not possible to look at another person and tell if they are “coasting” and not putting in any effort. And how can anyone look at themselves and know with certainty they are not fooling themselves and “coasting”? Paul himself said in 1 Corinthians 4:3-4, “In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.”
We might prefer to have a list to judge ourselves by. Of course, the “list” is the Bible, but we all know we are not going to perfectly keep God’s word and that there is the allowance for growth. How much development does God require? I’m not even talking about sin. For example, we know we are to be patient. How patient must we be? Where is the line that says, “After you pass this level you are patient enough”? And if we cannot find a “line” how will we know if we have surpassed it? This is a challenge, but there are some principles we can use to make some judgments about our progress.
How Open Are You To Truth?
Today I want you to consider that the fundamental question of faithfulness relates to our hearts, specifically, openness to the truth. If you are not open to the truth, there is no chance that you are developing properly. But openness is a sign of potential development.
How would you rate your openness? Here are some interesting principles from Proverbs 2:1-5 to help us make adjustments if needed.
Here are the verbs of an open heart:
An open heart receives and treasures instruction (Proverbs 2:1)
When is the last time you learned something new or saw something old in a better light? If it has been a while then we can conclude one of two things. Either you have already become perfect, or you are not looking for truth.
An open heart listens and applies instruction (Proverbs 2:2)
A heart that is open to truth is one that will try to understand it. Those struggles that you face from time to time where you are trying to figure out the best way to handle a situation and be faithful to God–those are times that show you are applying your heart to understanding.
An open heart asks questions (Proverbs 2:3)
Questions are the lifeblood of growth. We only learn the things we ask about. What was the last question you had about the Bible or how to apply it to your life? This is surely a sign of how open your heart is to the Word of God.
An open heart searches for more truth (Proverbs 2:4)
I’ve often had questions that I wanted to have answered but did not want to find the answers myself. Teachers, remember that if a student wants to know an answer, he or she will ask. He may not ask you, but the questions will be asked. Provide the answers for them. If they are not asking questions, even spoon-feeding them the answer will not work. They will only retain what they want to learn. The same is true in Bible study. When was the last time you decided to search out an answer for a spiritual question? The idea in that verse goes beyond merely asking a question. The verse mentions searching “as for hidden treasures”. Are you really interested enough to find the answers yourself without someone just giving you what you’d like to hear?
Here is a way to test your heart, to see if you are genuinely open to the truth. Your life may well depend on how you relate to these points. The good news is that if you find yourself doing these things, you can have good confidence in your pursuit of truth. Even if you are not at the goal, with these attitudes, you soon will be. Jesus said that whoever seeks will find.
And if you are not where you should be, the good news is that you CAN be this way. It’s merely a decision you make daily.
Open Your Heart To Truth
Your heart is the garden in which the plants of your life grow. What grows is determined by what seeds you allow in the garden. Put God’s word deep within your heart and what will grow will astonish you! The first step to that growth is an open heart to truth. (By the way, if you’d like to see more lessons on the heart, click here.)
Where are you in the journey? Need some help? Let’s talk!