Why You Can't Afford to Stop Growing Spiritually

(Unsplash/Artur Rutkowski)

As the source of higher-paying jobs, manufacturing is closely followed in nearly all economies. The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) publishes a monthly index, which is widely followed as an indicator of the financial health of U.S. manufacturing. This Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is obtained by surveying about 300 manufacturing companies.

The PMI is the average of five subcomponent indicators: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries and inventories. A score above 50 percent indicates an increase in output (or the subcomponent) and below 50 percent indicates a decrease in output (or the subcomponent).

Last week, ISM released its preliminary or flash estimate for the May PMI. The manufacturing PMI increased to 56.6, and both the services and composite PMIs increased to 55.7. The reports indicated moderate growth. ISM does not release subcomponent estimates for its flash report.

Recently, the PMI has documented growth in U. S. manufacturing. In April's PMI manufacturing report, new factory orders have been growing for 28 months, production for 20 months, employment for 19 months, and inventories for four months. The only laggard was supplier deliveries, which would be expected with the resurgence of manufacturing.

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Of the manufacturers surveyed, 42.4 percent reported higher new orders (8.1 percent reported lower), 33.6 percent reported higher production (8.0 percent lower), 23.1 percent reported higher employment growth (10.2 percent lower), 20.4 percent reported higher inventories (14.6 percent lower), and 25.6 percent reported slower supplier deliveries (3.2 percent faster).

U.S. manufacturing is growing. A number of reasons explain this growth. First, President Trump champions U.S. manufacturing domestically and abroad which has improved confidence. Second, recent tax reforms have lowered the cost of manufacturing production in the U.S. Third, tax reforms encouraged the repatriation of capital abroad.

Every believer has the obligation to grow in the Lord. Growth implies fruitfulness. Fruitfulness does not prove that we are growing in the Lord, but a lack of fruitfulness shows that we are not growing. Growth provides protection from backsliding. Growth allows us to accomplish our purpose. Growth, with its fruitfulness, gets our prayers answered.

The parable of the sower talks about four individuals (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23). The first is not fruitful because he didn't understand the Word and had it immediately snatched from him. The second was not fruitful because he had no depth of root (did not become spiritually mature) and fell away. The third was not fruitful because the worries of the world and deceitfulness of riches choked the word. But the last individual was very fruitful, because he heard the word, understood and brought forth fruit.

"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. Some produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown" (Matt. 13:23).

We bear fruit by consistently abiding in the Lord. We cannot bear godly fruit that will last without the Lord. As a husband and wife grow closer together through the years, the process of abiding in Him draws us closer to Him, allows us to grow spiritually, and allows us to bear more fruit. We glorify the Father with the fruits of growth. Fruitfulness gives us an additional promise of answered prayer.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8).

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name" (John 15:16).

Peter gave nine qualities that greater detail the process we should be following to grow in the Lord. He notes that we should apply the process in all diligence—we need to be serious, consistent and dedicated. Peter promises fruit and greater knowledge of the Lord if the qualities are applied and increasing (growth). The qualities, which are a series of sequential and iterative steps, are listed below.

  • Faith—the substance of things not seen. We cannot please God or grow spiritually without faith.
  • Moral Excellence—honesty, truthfulness, fairness and good character. Moral excellence is basic to being a Christian.
  • Knowledge—we need to know the Bible and we need to know His voice. To grow, we should study the Bible daily and pray continually.
  • Self-control—we need self-discipline. The Spirit provides self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7), and we need exercise self-control daily.
  • Perseverance—constancy, singleness of purpose and steadiness.
  • Godliness—piety as we seek humility, realizing everything depends on God.
  • Brotherly kindness—a brotherly love. This is a human love expressed strongly in family relationships.
  • Love—agape or the God kind of love.

"For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 1:5-8).

Peter describes this process as sequential. Peter described it as a series of steps beginning with faith and ending with agape love. He also indicated the qualities should be growing or increasing within us. The process is also designed to be iterative—it is to be repeated. Some areas of our lives need more growth than other areas. The rewards of successfully implementing the process are fruit and knowledge.

"The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people," said A. W. Tozer.

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.

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