Seven Questions to Evaluate Your Progress in the Christian Life
These questions came directly out of a fresh examination of my own life some years ago.
When I first raised them it was during a significant year in ministry, having served in the United States as long as I had served in London—sixteen years. I asked myself, “What’s happened to me in that time? Where has there been progress? Where have I lost ground?”
I’m sure there are other questions that could be added, but I urge you to start with these and to use them as a grid for examining your own life, as you seek to lead and serve others in Christ:
1. Am I praying with faith?
I could have asked, “Am I praying?” That would be a good question, but this question goes further. In Luke 18, Jesus teaches us that we ought always to pray. Then at the end of that teaching he asks a question: “When the son of man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
Notice, He doesn’t ask, “Will the son of man find prayer on the earth?” but “Will the son of man find faith on the earth?” Why? Because what matters is not that I am saying my prayers, like the Pharisees did, and like millions of people in all religions around the world do.
What matters is that I’m praying with faith. Do I have confidence in God to do more than I can do? Or have I wandered into the spiritual wasteland of evaluating everything in terms of what I see as humanly possible—the easiest thing to do when you’ve been a Christian for 10, 20, or 30 years.
2. Am I serving with zeal?
I take this question straight from the Scriptures. Romans 12:8 says “The one who leads,” must lead “with zeal.” There’s something about passion here, something about vision, and something about direction. We must lead and serve others from a place of genuine passion and obedience to God. Are you serving with zeal?
3. Am I believing with confidence?
God says that “the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Do I believe that? Do I believe that when I pray for an unbelieving friend or relative? Do I believe that God is able to save them through the gospel?
When I struggle with a powerful temptation, with a habit that is difficult to overcome, do I believe that God is able to deliver me through the gospel? When I become tired, get discouraged, begin to wonder how long I can continue, do I believe that the God who saved me is able to keep me?
4. Am I confessing with humility?
Martin Luther said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ He meant that the whole life of a believer should be repentance.” Christ calls us, not to a prayer of repentance, but to a life of repentance, a life of turning ever more fully to Jesus Christ.
A life of repentance is not a life of misery, but a life of growth. It’s a life in which the Holy Spirit is constantly opening your eyes to how you can take the next step in becoming more like Jesus. A process of examination like this may begin to connect this reality with your life now.
A Christian is a person who has light to see what there needs to be less of and what there needs to be more of in his or her life. This leads to a life of confession, in which you see your sins and your failings, and you keep bringing them under the blood of Christ.
When you live life like this, you don’t waste your life in the shallow water of compromised obedience. Instead you launch out into the deep oceans of following Christ. Can you name a sin that you have confessed in the last week? In the last month?
5. Am I worshipping with joy?
When you come to worship, do you participate or do you observe? In the presence of Jesus, there will not be a single person with their arms folded, listening to the angels and observing the worship. We will all sing. We will all shout for joy. Ask yourself, “Am I worshipping with joy?” If not, why not?
6. Am I giving with gladness?
Giving is an indicator of love within marriage. A marriage that’s marked by withholding is not healthy. Giving is also an indicator of your love for Christ and your love for the bride of Christ. “I work to earn money that I gladly give to the bride.” Is that true of you? Or are you tiring of that?
7. Am I reaching out with love?
Here we are in a world of need, and some Christians are stretched out in sacrifice. This is so that lost people on their way to an eternal darkness may see the light of Christ through the gospel and be saved. What about you? Are you sacrificing for the sake of the gospel?