Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
One of the most encouraging signs in a young convert is to see spiritual growth. The change from a life of ungodliness to Christianity is distinct and clearly seen—there are many practices of life, speech and activities that are clearly changed as a result of conversion.
So often however, after that initial “new creature” experience we reach a plateau of Christianity and relax our pursuit of godliness. Weeks slip into months and months into years and we cannot identify any one area of life that has seen growth, or a single sin overcome or a single grace developed.
How often we are content to be saved from hell but so distracted by the world around us. We have expectations of heaven and no pursuit of Christ-likeness. Our prayer life is ritualistic and barren, the Scriptures are read but without ever hearing the author speak through them, there is no active searching the heart for sin, no seeking for the work of the Spirit of God in the life. We are content to go on with certain sins so long as they are not too prominent—what we might call “acceptable sins” like pride, anger, gossiping, or discontent.
Christian, make it your one pursuit in life to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Seek to have the testimony of Patrick who said “more and more did my love of God and my fear of Him increase, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred” (Confession, sec. 16).
“One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By these I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this head private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self-examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, and a man is wrong all the way through.”—J.C. Ryle