“Make the tree good, and its fruit will be good,” Jesus said, “or make the tree rotten, and its fruit will be rotten” (Matthew 12:23). Given the choice between a thriving life that makes the world a better place, or a life that primarily brings brokenness and pain to us and others, wouldn’t you choose the first? We want to become the best version of ourselves. But how do we do that? How can you make your tree good?
The first step after committing your life to Jesus is simple, but not always intuitive: taking responsibility for their own spiritual growth.
I’ve seen many people experience real, lasting transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit combined with hard work and patience over time. The amount of transformation I have come to expect seems unrealistic or almost utopian, but isn’t this exactly what Jesus promised?
Jesus’s first and closest disciple, Peter, wrote about this in his second letter. He says that by his divine power, Jesus has “lavished on us everything we need for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3). Isn’t that an amazing promise? He goes on to write that God’s promises “enable you to share his divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil cravings” (v.4). Who doesn’t want that?
So how do we get it? Peter continues: “make every effort to supply your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control,” and so on (v. 5-7). And he tells us why: “if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they will keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful” (v. 8).
Peter teaches several crucial points for us. Spiritual growth is an orderly process. In addition, it requires great effort. Maturity doesn’t just happen. We have to choose into this process. We have to persevere in it, even when the going gets rough.