In the last few months, I picked up gardening. In the process, I learned a lot about what can help a plant grow. For climbing plants, a trellis is a must. A trellis is a tool that enables a climber (like a grapevine) to get off the ground and grow upward, becoming more fruitful and productive. Every good gardener “trains” vines. They control which way they grow. This leads to healthier plants that produce better grapes.
In the same way that a grapevine needs a trellis for growth, we as Christ’s disciples need to have support structures to help us grow. These structures are our spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices. They help us remain in Him, so we can bear much fruit.
4 Spiritual Practices to Grow as a Disciple
In Acts 2: 42-47, we read about some spiritual practices that the disciples practiced. These daily activities helped them to grow rapidly in their own discipleship, as well as their ability to make other disciples.
The disciples devoted themselves to these four practices:
- scripture (apostle’s teaching),
- breaking bread (Lord’s supper)
Let us look at some truths that we can learn from these verses.
Keep love at the center.
The word “devoted” implies that they practiced the disciplines because they loved the Lord. They did not do them because these spiritual acts would grant them salvation. Nor because they were forced to do them so they could prove their spirituality. They did these things because they were totally and utterly devoted to Jesus.
As Jesus’ disciples, we need to practice these disciplines because we love Jesus and want nothing more than to be connected to Him. If we are not careful, we can turn these disciplines into a legalistic and outward display of spirituality.
The disciples who were devoted to these spiritual practices were new disciples.
They were recently baptized with the other three thousand (Acts 2: 41). Yet, they displayed their ability to actively participate in these simple disciplines.
The same Jesus and Holy Spirit who was in the apostles was also in them, enabling them to live new lives. The apostles also taught them to immediately practice these things.
Like a gardener who trains a grapevine to grow on the trellis from the time it is very young, we must be intentional to train everyone…especially new disciples to grow in the practice of these disciplines.
We should expect them to be devoted to scripture (apostle’s teaching), fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. Intentionality applies to everyone. No matter how long we have been following Jesus, the key to growth is consistent intentionality and discipline.
Let inner transformation be shown by outward fruit.
The disciples’ inner transformation and growth resulted in them bearing fruit in the outside world. Some people talk about spiritual disciplines, as ‘an exterior framework for an interior journey’.
It is true that the disciplines transform the disciple on the inside, but true inner growth and transformation must spill over. These must be seen in the disciple’s actions in their own community of Christ-disciples, as well as in their relationships with other people.
The disciples in Acts 2:45-47 gave to those in need, enjoyed the favor of all the people so that the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. We as Christ’s disciples need to show inner transformation through outward fruit.
How are you doing at regularly practicing these spiritual disciples? Are they resulting in inner transformation and outward fruit?
In the comments below, mention one spiritual practice you will work to develop into a spiritual habit this week.
Authored by B.S.