Spiritual growth is not measured by our activities, knowledge, or experiences. It is not an external performance, but an internal transformation of the heart. 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 shows three indicators of spiritual growth:
Love for others (1 Peter 1:22-25).
- We are to “love one another earnestly,” proactively pursuing people the way that Christ pursued us. We have been transformed by Christ to love like Christ.
- Love is the hallmark of the Christian faith. It is how people will know that we are following Christ (John 13:35).
- Love and truth always go hand-in-hand. It is not loving to “rejoice in wrongdoing” or ignore the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). God is love (1 John 4:8), and in Jesus we see love and truth perfectly united.
- We are to love even those who are hard to love (Matthew 5:46).
Hatred for sin (1 Peter 2:1).
- We are to “put away,” or get rid of, five relationship killers:
- Malice, which is the desire to hurt someone.
- Deceit, which is deliberate dishonesty.
- Hypocrisy, which is saying one thing and doing another.
- Envy, which is to resent someone else’s advantage.
- Slander, which is harming someone’s reputation.
- It can be difficult to get rid of these relationship killers because:
- We live in a culture where outrage is celebrated (Proverbs 29:11).
- We have been hurt ourselves, and we want to fight back or protect ourselves.
- It’s easier to see other people’s sin before our own (Matthew 7:3-4).
- We are accountable for every careless word spoken or posted (Matthew 12:36).
Hunger for truth (1 Peter 2:2-3).
- We should “long for” the truth of God’s Word. The more we seek it, the more we acquire a taste for it and do crave it.
- We suppress our appetite for truth when we:
- Fail to prioritize time reading God’s Word and listening to it being preached.
- Get distracted and fail to focus when reading or hearing God’s Word.
- Fail to obey what God’s Word says (James 1:22-24).
- If reading God’s Word feels more like a drudgery than a delight, then read it:
- Prayerfully. Pray for a desire to read God’s Word and for a better understanding of it.
- Devotionally. Recognize that the goal is not just to learn, but to get to know God.
- Thoughtfully. Take advantage of the resources available to study and understand the Bible.
- Corporately. Read along with other people.
Discussing and Applying the Sermon
- How are you doing at loving other people? Is there anyone you find hard to love? Why is that?
- Do you tend to be someone who is “all truth”—speaking the truth without love—or “all love,” seeking to affirm everyone without speaking truth? How can you better speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)?
- Which of the five relationship killers above do you need to get rid of? Why do you do those things?
- Do you have a hunger for the truth? What next step could you take to develop more of an appetite for God’s Word?
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