Have you made your usual resolutions for 2012 — lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with family, pay off the credit cards and so on? The usual resolutions address your physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.
But how about your spiritual wellbeing?
This year resolve to grow in faith — that is, to draw closer to God and become more spiritually mature. It’s a tall order, but Jesus tells us exactly how to do it:
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
God stands eager and ready to pour spiritual power and awareness into our lives. We just have to ask, search and knock. Jesus drives this point home as the passage continues (verses 9-11):
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Wow! God wants to do these things because God is our heavenly parent who loves us and cares for us so much more than even the best of earthly parents.
But the sad truth is that many of us spend our whole lives hoping for a deeper experience of the Holy One, yet we fail to ask, seek or knock. Why?
In many cases, we may not really want a better spiritual life. Deep down, we may know that a closer walk with God takes work that we’d really rather not do. Seeking and knocking usually requires regular church attendance, diligent Scripture study, whole-hearted prayer and service to others. These everyday spiritual disciplines are how Christians have asked, sought and knocked for centuries.
Some people say they want to be more spiritual, but not if it requires actual effort. It’s like the person who constantly complains about that 20 pounds he really needs to lose and really really intends to lose “someday,” but never does. Fact is, he’d rather carry around the extra weight than go through the changes in diet and exercise that losing that weight would require.
Others of us may object to the personal changes that a close spiritual walk might require. Jesus commands us to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. For most of us, these require a total change of heart.
You see, sin is not the bad things we DO, but rather the condition of who we ARE that causes us to do the bad things we do. “Original sin” is that we naturally focus on ourselves and what we want. It’s not that we don’t love God or our neighbor, just that we love ourselves much, much more! And deep down we really, really don’t want to change.
Because this truth is so extremely ingrained and hard, most people don’t see it or even want to see it, let alone to seek God’s help in growing past it.
Asking, seeking and knocking involves a willingness to receive, to see and to have the door opened. It takes work and involves pain. But growing spiritually is worth the effort and is precisely the plan that God designs for each of us.
Ask. Seek. Knock! Will you join me in resolving to do whatever it takes to grow spiritually in 2010?
Rev. Rob Blezard is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Arendtsville, Pa., and content editor of the Stewardship of Life Institute website. Feel free to use this essay for your nonprofit church publications. Just include this note: “Copyright (c) 2010, Rev. Robert Blezard, www.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by Permission. “
2009 Photo by Martin Mullen, via Big Stock Photo