“My kids are growing like weeds.”
“I’ve blinked, and they have grown.”
“I need to savor the sweet moments of their early childhood, because they won’t always be this small.”
It’s true. Growth is inevitable. Growth is a natural part of healthy life. But growth happens through intention.
When it comes to growth, there are really two types of goals. Input goals, and output goals.
I want my kids to grow. That is an output goal. That is the aim and desired result.
I need to feed my kids nutritious food and parent them well so that they will grow. That is the input goal. That needs to be in place in order for healthy growth to happen.
When it comes to becoming a healthy, biblical disciple of Jesus, we need a plan for personal spiritual growth.
So do you have a plan for personal spiritual growth?
Are you living that plan in your life?
Is it working well?
Are you actively reading scripture and applying it daily?
If you have answered any of the above questions in the negative—this post is for you.
It is crucial that disciples of Jesus are intentionally growing in Jesus. God’s plan for us is growth. God’s desire for us is maturity.
The goal of discipleship is more than knowledge. It is transformation. It is growth. It is maturity.
The goal of being a disciple is to be like Jesus. To be Christ-like.
As Jesus Himself says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Again, it is crucial that disciples of Jesus are intentionally growing in Jesus. Spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not like I can say “Here you go kids. Eat this candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t brush your teeth.” And then one day say “Oh wow! You are all so healthy and have immaculate cavity-free teeth!” It doesn’t happen that way.
What I want to offer here is a simple—yet effective—tool for personal spiritual growth.
Reap is an acronym, with a principle for each letter of the word “reap.” Now implementing REAP is best done if you have a notebook, journal, or word processor of some sort.
“But I’m just not the journaling type,” you may say. “I don’t like to write,” you may say. That’s ok. I get it. But I want to refer you to the above questions again. “Do you have a personal plan for spiritual growth?” “Is it working well?”
Let’s explore this helpful principle. You’ll need access to a Bible, a way to write things down, and a prayerful attitude to begin.
REAP stands for Read, Examine, Apply, Pray. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Let’s take a closer look:
Read- As you read the Bible, choose a passage, verse, or part of a verse that you want to focus in on. Stick with that scripture for this exercise.
Examine- Here is where you focus on the passage and discover what is being said. Write out what you examine and observe in the passage. What do you see here in the scriptures? What is being said at face value? What might it mean to the original audience? What principles do you find? What is the lesson of the passage? What does it mean for us today?
Apply- Here is where it gets personal. Apply the lesson(s) to your life. The principles you found in the Examine step are now put into your practical life. Write this section out too. In light of what was examined, what do you need to do? Does anything need to change in your life? What would your life look like if you started to apply the scriptures? What are you convicted of? What can you start doing today? What are you doing well? What do you need to repent of?
Pray- We can do nothing apart from Jesus (John 15:5). We need to seek the purposes of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit to live for God. If our obedience is separated from the gospel or from the power of God, it becomes legalism. Works based righteousness. So pray that the Lord would help you to live for Him in light of what you’ve learned. Be specific. He delights in you seeking His will, and will answer your prayers to do His will. You may write out your prayers, or pray them outloud, or both. It’s a powerful thing to look back on our prayers to see how God has answered.
So there you have it. REAP. Read, Examine, Apply, Pray.
This process doesn’t have to be lengthy at all. In fact, I encourage you to start small if you need to. Get used to the concept.
I challenge you to put this technique to work in your daily life. In doing so, you will truly see growth!
If you need an example, check out my previous blog post. It is lengthy, but you can see the principle at work. God bless!