True Spirituality—How Can You Find It?
“TO BE carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Romans 8:6, King James Version) With those words, the apostle was pointing out that being a spiritual person is more than a matter of personal preference or inclination. Essentially, it is a matter of life and death. In what sense, though, does a spiritual person receive “life and peace”? According to the Bible, such a person enjoys peace now—with self and with God—and will be blessed with everlasting life in the future. (Romans 6:23; Philippians 4:7) No wonder Jesus observed: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need”!—Matthew 5:3.
The fact that you are reading this magazine indicates that you have an interest in spirituality—and wisely so. Yet, views on this subject differ widely, so you may wonder: ‘What is true spirituality? And how does one attain it?’
“The Mind of Christ”
In addition to pointing out the importance and benefits of being spiritually-minded, the apostle Paul had much to say about what true spirituality is. To the Christians in the ancient city of Corinth, Paul explained the difference between a physical man, that is, a person who follows the impulses of the flesh, and a spiritual man, a person who cherishes spiritual things. Paul wrote: “A physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.” On the other hand, Paul explained that the spiritual man is characterized by having “the mind of Christ.”—1 Corinthians 2:14-16.
Having “the mind of Christ” basically means having “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5; Philippians 2:5) In other words, a spiritual man is one who thinks as Jesus does and walks in His footsteps. (1 Peter 2:21; 4:1) The more a person’s mind resembles that of Christ, the deeper his spirituality is and the closer he is to gaining “life and peace.”—Romans 13:14.
How to Get to Know “the Mind of Christ”
To have the mind of Christ, however, one must first know that mind. Therefore, the first step in developing spirituality is to get to know Jesus’ way of thinking. But how do you come to know the mind of someone who lived on earth 2,000 years ago? Well, how, for example, did you learn about the historical figures of your country? Likely by reading about them. Similarly, reading a written history of Jesus is an important way to get to know the mind of Christ.—John 17:3.
In Jesus’ case, there are four vivid historical accounts—the Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Reading these accounts carefully will help you to perceive Jesus’ way of thinking, his depth of feeling, and the motivation behind his actions. When you take time to reflect on what you read about Jesus, you build a picture in your mind of the kind of person he was. Even if you already consider yourself a follower of Christ, such reading and reflection will help you to “go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 3:18.
With that in mind, let us examine some passages in the Gospels to see what made Jesus such a spiritual person. Then, ask yourself how you can imitate the pattern set by him.—John 13:15.
Spirituality and “the Fruitage of the Spirit”
Gospel writer Luke stated that God’s holy spirit was poured out on Jesus at his baptism and that Jesus was “full of holy spirit.” (Luke 3:21, 22; 4:1) Jesus, in turn, impressed upon his followers the importance of being guided by God’s holy spirit, or “active force.” (Genesis 1:2; Luke 11:9-13) Why is that so important? Because God’s spirit has the power to transform a person’s mind, so that it begins to resemble the mind of Christ. (Romans 12:1, 2) The holy spirit produces in a person such qualities as “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” These qualities—which the Bible calls “the fruitage of the spirit”—mark a truly spiritual person. (Galatians 5:22, 23) In short, a spiritually-minded person is one who is guided by God’s spirit.
Jesus displayed the fruitage of the spirit throughout his ministry. Such qualities as love, kindness, and goodness were particularly evident in the way he treated those who were considered lowly members of society. (Matthew 9:36) Note, for example, an incident described by the apostle John. We read: “As [Jesus] was passing along he saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus’ disciples also noticed the man but saw him as a sinner. “Who sinned,” they asked, “this man or his parents?” The man’s neighbors also noted the man, but all they saw was a beggar. “This is the man that used to sit and beg, is it not?” they said. Jesus, however, saw the blind man as an individual who needed help. He spoke to the blind man and cured him.—John 9:1-8.
What does this incident tell you about the mind of Christ? First, Jesus did not overlook lowly ones but treated them with tender compassion. Second, he took the initiative to help others. Do you see yourself following this pattern set by Jesus? Do you see people as Jesus did, giving them the help they need to improve their life and brighten their future? Or do you tend to favor those who are prominent and overlook those who are not? If the former is the case, you are doing well in following Jesus’ example.—Psalm 72:12-14.
Spirituality and Prayer
The Gospel accounts show that Jesus often turned to God in prayer. (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 22:41) During his ministry on earth, Jesus deliberately set aside time to pray. The disciple Matthew wrote: “Having sent the crowds away, [Jesus] went up into the mountain by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23) From such moments spent in quiet communication with his heavenly Father, Jesus gained strength. (Matthew 26:36-44) Today, spiritually-minded people likewise look for opportunities to communicate with God, knowing that this will strengthen their relationship with the Creator and help them to become more Christlike in their thinking.
Jesus often spent extended periods of time in prayer. (John 17:1-26) For instance, before he chose the 12 men who would become his apostles, Jesus “went out into the mountain to pray, and he continued the whole night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) Although not necessarily spending the whole night in prayer, those who are spiritually-minded follow Jesus’ example. Before making major decisions in life, they take ample time to pray to God, seeking the direction of the holy spirit in making choices that will deepen their spirituality.
In his prayers, Jesus also showed the depth of feeling that we ought to imitate in our prayers. Note what Luke recorded about the way Jesus prayed on the evening before he died. “Getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) Jesus had prayed earnestly before, but on this occasion, faced with the most severe test of his earthly life, he prayed “more earnestly”—and his prayer was answered. (Hebrews 5:7) Spiritually-minded people follow Jesus’ example. When faced with trials that are particularly severe, they pray “more earnestly” to God for holy spirit, guidance, and support.
Since Jesus was clearly a man of prayer, it is not surprising that his disciples wanted to imitate him in this regard. Therefore, they asked him: “Lord, teach us how to pray.” (Luke 11:1) Similarly today, those who value spiritual matters and want to be guided by God’s holy spirit follow Jesus’ example in how they pray to God. True spirituality and prayer go hand in hand.
Spirituality and the Preaching of the Good News
In the Gospel of Mark, we find an account in which Jesus cured many ill people, doing so late into the night. Early the next morning when he was alone praying, his apostles came and told him that many people were looking for him, perhaps wanting to be cured. However, Jesus told them: “Let us go somewhere else, into the village towns nearby, that I may preach there also.” Then Jesus explained why: “It is for this purpose I have gone out.” (Mark 1:32-38; Luke 4:43) Although curing people was important to Jesus, preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom was Jesus’ primary mission.—Mark 1:14, 15.
Today, telling others about God’s Kingdom is still an identifying mark of those who have the mind of Christ. To all who want to be his followers, Jesus gave the command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) In addition, Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Since God’s Word indicates that the preaching work is accomplished by the power of the holy spirit, having a meaningful share in that work is a sign of true spirituality.—Acts 1:8.
Preaching the Kingdom message to people around the world requires the united efforts of millions of people. (John 17:20, 21) Those engaged in this work need to be not only spiritually-minded but also well-organized on a global scale. Can you identify the people who are following in the footsteps of Christ and preaching the good news of the Kingdom around the world?
How Do You Measure Up?
Of course, there are other characteristics that identify a truly spiritual person, but how do you measure up to those already considered? To find out, ask yourself: ‘Do I regularly read God’s Word, the Bible, and reflect on what I read? Do I manifest the fruitage of the spirit in my life? Am I a man or a woman of prayer? Do I want to associate with the people who are carrying out the worldwide preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom?’
An honest self-examination may help you to determine the depth of your spirituality. We urge you to take the necessary steps now so that “life and peace” may be your lot.—Romans 8:6; Matthew 7:13, 14; 2 Peter 1:5-11.
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MARKS OF SPIRITUALITY
◆ Having love for God’s Word
◆ Manifesting the fruitage of the spirit
◆ Praying to God regularly and sincerely
◆ Sharing the Kingdom good news with others
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The Bible helps you get to know “the mind of Christ”