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“I want to go deeper.”

Chances are, if you’ve ever been in a position of responsibility for the spiritual health and growth of others, you’ve heard these words.  A plea, really, for your help in an active pursuit, this statement is loaded.

What, exactly, does “deeper” mean?  Do they really want to be challenged, or do they simply want to know more?

For many, “deeper” simply means “harder to understand.”  Once they know something well enough to correctly categorize its application, pass it along to others, and offer a passable explanation to those who might question them about it, they consider the concept mastered and want to move on to new or more abstract information.

There’s nothing at all wrong with this, of course.

We should always strive to build on what we know, for our sake and others’, but we must be careful not to confuse knowledge with wisdom or basic retention with mastery.

Until a person applies the biblical knowledge they’ve acquired, experiences the consequences, good or bad, of that application, and makes necessary changes in heart, mind, and behavior with the Holy Spirit’s help, they’ve not actually mastered that knowledge.  It’s not really theirs.

They’ve not matured.  They’ve not gone “deeper” in that they’ve neither identified with Christ in the struggle to love God through submission and obedience in that particular—and the suffering that often follows—nor experienced the kind of intimacy with God that comes from making the right choice.

Craving that intimacy—and rightly so—but misunderstanding the process that fosters it, they move on to the next truth, the next concept, mistaking academic struggle for spiritual growth, ever and always looking and asking for more when what they are looking for—what they need—is close at hand, just on the other side of a choice to apply what they already know.

Those of us who mentor—we all do whether we realize it or not—do well when we encourage anyone wanting to absorb new biblical truth to do so, but we err when we fail to challenge them in the practical.  We must urge them to consider how the knowledge they’ve acquired has changed their heart, mind, and behavior and to identify what they’ve learned about the Father through that change.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Cor. 8:1),” and love is obedience to God’s commands (1 John 5:2-3).

Want to grow spiritually?  Want to go deeper?

Keep learning new things.  Hard things.

DO apply your mind to the truth found in God’s Word, but DON’T forget to put feet to what you learn, for only by living out practically the truth we accept theoretically will we ever fully understand and find satisfaction in what’s ours through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.