Measuring spiritual growth appears to be an unspiritual endeavor but it is indeed spiritual and a Jesus-honoring endeavor. We see Paul telling the believers in Thessalonica to keep doing good and excel at it (see 1 Thessalonians 4:10), as well as Jesus exhorting His disciples to bear much fruit (see John 15:1-8). And the references go on and on.
But how do you measure growth in your life concerning areas of sin? Robert Jones in his book, Anger: Calming Your Heart (31-day devotionals for life) gives some extremely helpful statements that I believe will serve you well as you seek to be holy as Jesus is holy (1 Peter 1:16) in all areas of your life, not just anger.
Since Jones’ book is on anger each of the statements are couched in language concerning growth in not expressing sinful anger, but you can and should apply these metrics to any sin in your life. Look for…
- A decreased frequency of angry feelings and expressions. Instead of averaging three episodes per week (or per day), you only average one or two.
- A decreased intensity in the actual expression of your sinful anger. Instead of punching the wall, you initially clench your fist and then relax it. Instead of upper-decibel shouting, you lower your voice.
- A decreased duration of your anger. Instead of brewing for several hours, you move more quickly in repentance and forgiveness.
- A decrease in the occasions that provoke your anger. In time past, there would be myriad triggers that provoked your anger, but now, having seen growth you’re less prone to get upset, raise your voice, or say something you’d regret.
“By God’s grace, what you hope for is decreasing anger and increasing godliness over the course of your life” – Robert Jones.