Wayne Earnest
Newbern, Tennessee

Most people desire self-improvement. In all walks of life we see folks seeking to do better. It is a sad commentary on those who don't. The technological age in which we live is within itself a challenge toward self-improvement. This helps explain the rapid rise of state vocational schools and other schools of betterment. That little extra bit of self-improvement helps one do a better job. As long as one can stay green he can grow but just about the time one thinks he is ripe, that's when he begins to rotten.

Not only is this true in this respect but also in the spiritual realm. Christians need constantly to be pressing on toward higher ground in the edification of the spiritual man. This is even better understood when we consider the fact that the church is a spiritual kingdom and every member is born of the spirit. Those members then are to walk after the spirit. Our worship is not only to be according to truth but also to be in spirit. Consequently, we should be cognizant that our very warfare is spiritual. Thus, we need to study what God has revealed that will help us live better spiritual lives and so improve the spiritual man that we will be able to do more good in the world. It was the Hebrew writer who said . . . let us go on unto perfection." Peter's words were: "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby" (I Pet. 2:2). Then in 2 Pet. 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." This self-improvement of the spiritual man will involve the following:

Must First Give Ourselves to, the Lord

This is at the top of the list and will eliminate many problems in the future (2 Cor. 8:5). Responsibility becomes more impressive when we consider that it involves both body and soul (I Cor. 6:18-20). The very attitude of the heart must be right toward God (Lk. 12:16-21).

The self-improvement needed in the life of the Christian is that which calls for a full and complete consecration of all our talents to God. Paul said in Rom. 12: 1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The obvious reason seems to be given in Rom. 14:8. "For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."

Follow the Guide

Many mail-order self-improvement courses are offered. These usually contain a guide book. God met man's spiritual needs by revealing the Divine Guide the Bible; thus, spiritual knowledge. Lack of knowledge results in destruction. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). Anytime we fail to impress a given generation with God's eternal word, we deprive that generation of the needed self-improvement. The word of God further reveals, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16).

Thus, the study of Holy Writ brings about self-improvement and of which there is no substitute. One of the reasons why the church of the Lord loses so many of its boys and girls in the state colleges is the preparation time involved for classes, and this to the neglect of Bible study. We will give the time in preparation for secular schooling, but will we give the time in preparation for eternity? Some have suggested that these boys and girls "just didn't have enough faith." That's just the point! "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Many know to follow the guide, but will not receive the self-improvement needed because they neglected to do what they knew to do.

Fill Your Life With Prayer

If you don't know how to pray, then learn. You can do this by reading the prayers that are recorded in the New Testament. The instructions in I Thess. 5:17-18 are: "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you." Flavel said, "Prayer is the outlet of the saint's sorrows, and the inlet of their supports and comforts." One man said, "Before my conversion, when I prayed before others, I prayed to them; when I prayed in secret, I prayed to myself; but now I pray to God." Henry Ward Beecher explained it this way: "One of the best prayers ever offered is that which Christ himself hallowed, and set apart for our observation - 'God be merciful to me, a sinner!' There is no title, no 'forever and ever, Amen,' to it. It is only the heart broken out of the man." And I say when our hearts fail to break out unto God, our souls fall down to Satan.

Think on Things Above

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). The "things" upon which our thoughts should dwell is expanded further in Phil. 4:8. In Psalms I the blessed man is the .man who meditates on the law of the Lord both day and night.

Every thought must be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5).

Our thoughts will tell the tale. They will mean the difference many, many times between self-improvement for the spiritual man and self-indulgence of the physical man.

Our Thinking Should Include the Coming Judgment

Remember, it made Felix tremble! "And as be reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:25).. 1 think the coming judgment would make more people tremble if only they would give some thought to it. That day has been appointed by God (Acts 17:31). You may be next in line to Demas or you may be next in line to Paul. Where do you think you stand? Serious thoughts about the coming judgment could result in self-improvement now that will determine where you stand then.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 12, pp. 10-11
September 1969