“Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:15,16).
IT IS A FACT THAT WE ALL MOVE IN SOME DIRECTION EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES. As far as our inner character is concerned, there is no standing still. We are either growing or declining every day. And if we are seekers of God, our most powerful desire will be to make progress spiritually. However important physical, mental, and emotional growth may be, it is even more important that we grow in the spiritual dimension of our nature. We need — every day — to be moving away from the mortality of the body and toward the immortality of the spirit.
But this kind of progress doesn’t come to the lackadaisical or the haphazard. It is the result of a concentrated focus on God, and this focus itself is the result of a decisive commitment to spiritual growth. If we have anything less than a committed focus on God, the importance of our growth will get trampled by the urgency of today’s “To Do” list. This is something we must not allow to happen. Paul urged his younger friend Timothy to “meditate” on the truths of God that he’d been taught. “Give yourself entirely to them,” Paul wrote. To improve, Timothy needed to “take heed” to himself and the body of doctrine that could move him toward God. But not only would Timothy need to focus his mind and concentrate on the teachings of God; he would also need to “continue in them.” Significant improvement in our lives is not the work of one day. It is by patiently continuing our concentration on spiritual things that we find ourselves making progress.
Genuine spiritual progress, however, is worth every sacrifice, every ounce of effort, and every moment of concentration that go into it. Even in the here and now, there is no contentment in the world any more peaceful than knowing we’re getting better spiritually. To experience this progress is to get a foretaste of greater things to come. As William Blake has reminded us, the very joy of heaven is “improvement of the things of the spirit.”
I am wrapped in mortality, my flesh is a prison, my bones the bars of death.
What is mortality but the things related to the body, which dies.
What is immortality but the things related to the spirit, which lives eternally.
What is the joy of heaven but improvement of the things of the spirit.