We all make mistakes. Some are harmless. Others really cost us. I can just begin to think back on some mistakes and immediately begin to sweat. In other cases, my mistakes have just created a big laugh.
That’s all well and good until it comes to your spiritual life. When we begin to talk about our relationship with God, we can afford fewer mistakes. Yet, we all tend to make them. It could be mistakes that lead to poor or unwise choices. Even worse, it could be mistakes that lead to sin.
Do you want to increasingly enjoy your life as a Christ follower more? Do you want to better honor God in your daily living? If yes, here are two common mistakes to avoid for a more vibrant spiritual life.
- Don’t be very satisfied with simply knowing the Bible.
- Don’t be too impressed with your common sense.
God wants us to grow in our love. He wants it to abound more and more (Philippians 1:9). God knows that when our love grows, we profit in two ways. First, we have a more intimate relationship with Christ. Second, we share our love and the benefits of our more intimate relationship with Christ with others. This is a win-win. We enjoy Christ more, and others enjoy us more.
The Apostle Paul describes this process. “Let your love abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment…” (Phil 1:9). Our love grows in two ways: in knowledge and in all discernment. In this process, both knowledge and discernment are inextricably connected. This means that as you grow in your intimate knowledge of Christ, you also should grow in your discernment or practical living.
Think of a boat. When the water level changes, a fully operational boat rises and falls with the water level. A boat is in trouble if that is not the case. If it fails to rise as the water goes up, it will ultimately sink – which is bad. If it fails to fall as the water goes down, it will eventually be grounded – which is also bad. The best situation in every way is that the boat naturally rises and falls with the water level.
How does this help us with our love growing in knowledge and discernment? Surprisingly, it is very similar to the boat. If you grow in knowledge without growing in discernment, you are in danger. If you grow in practical wisdom without growing in knowledge, you are in seemingly even greater danger. Both are mistakes that are bad for you. Both mistakes cause you harm. Both mistakes you want to avoid.
Don’t be very satisfied with simply knowing the Bible.
Bible knowledge is not enough. God’s goal for you is to know Jesus better and enjoy your life in Him. Yes, we grow in our experience of Christ through God’s Word. However, just growing in the knowledge of the Bible does not mean that you are necessarily growing in your walk with Christ. The Bible warns about knowing the Bible without applying it in our daily living. Paul teaches that knowledge of the Bible without lovingly applying that knowledge to living life for God’s honor is dangerous (1 Corinthians 8:1; 13:2, 4). This leads to pride and arrogance.
What is the mistake then? The mistake is not knowing the Bible or getting to know Christ better. On the contrary. You need to know the Bible and especially know Christ increasingly more and better. The mistake is failing to apply what you know in love in your practical living. You must take what you know and let that lovingly impact what you do.
Therefore, do not be satisfied with simply knowing. Seek to lovingly apply everything you know about Christ and your Bible in daily living.
Don’t be too impressed with your common sense.
Beware and be warned if you have great common sense and logic, meaning that you have incredible insight into most situations. You give advice easily. You see the big picture and the implications of circumstances without much effort. You foresee danger. When asked, you provide helpful advice to another person. You may even wonder how others can’t seem to catch it, figure it out, or understand the issues in a particular situation. Many times you see this when people are impressed with their leadership ability. In fact, often leadership is taught as a stand-alone issue.
As I said earlier, this could be even more dangerous. What is the mistake then? The mistake is living life as a seemingly wise person or leader without allowing your insight to flow out of your knowledge of Christ. Your advice and insight help you at the common sense level. Others may even view you as helpful; you may be known as a wise person or a great leader. However, this kind of wisdom without any connection to your relationship with Christ is false wisdom, wisdom from below, and not wisdom at all (James 3:13-18). Solomon makes it clear that true wisdom always begins with the fear of God, that is, a growing, functioning, and intimate relationship with God (i.e., Proverbs 1:7). In other words, true wisdom, insight, and leadership are always connected to a growing and vibrant relationship to Christ – becoming Christlike in our character and conduct. To think otherwise is to make a mistake.
Therefore, do not be too impressed with your common sense. Seek to lovingly think and share wisdom as it flows out of everything you know about Christ and your Bible in daily living as you seek to become more Christlike.
Abounding in Our Love for God and Others includes Growth in Knowledge and Discernment
Learn all you can. Learn the Bible. Walk with Christ. Grow in your intimate knowledge of Jesus.
Seek to apply all you know about Christ and the fruit of walking with Christ to your daily living. Let your relationship with Christ inform you wisdom, insight, and leadership.
Avoid these two common mistakes and
enjoy a more vibrant spiritual life!
Kevin Carson is the Pastor of the Sonrise Baptist Church in Ozark, Missouri (www.sonrisebaptist.com). In addition to his pastoral ministry, he serves as the department chair of biblical counseling at the Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri (www.gobbc.edu). He also serves as a counselor at Sonrise Biblical Counseling Ministry, is ACBC Certified, IABC Certified, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, author, and is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats and seminars. He and his wife, Kelly, have four children.