There Are No Merit Badges In the Spiritual Life

Why do we read our Bibles? What comes out of our prayer times? Is it important to commit to daily listening to God? Is worship just a chance to sing decent melodies? Will that Bible Study be little more than information and knowledge? What is the goal of an act of service?

Many years ago, I wrote, “I had to learn that there are no merit badges in the spiritual life only an increased sense of God’s love and his will being done.” What does this mean? 

It means that I can read through the Bible in a year but if my life hasn’t been transformed in the process then what is so good about completing the goal? It means that the next programming at your church may be a fine thing to participate in but if it doesn’t produce disciples of Christ then it is just church for church sake. It means that the Thanksgiving meal you handed out is just community service unless your heart was softened and your eyes were opened up in compassion.

Photo by cottonbro on

We are in an age where it is much easier to present oneself as a “good” Christian then actually be one. Virtue signaling is an epidemic online and in our social media feeds. Who we are on the heart level is of little concern to most of us because we have presented ourselves as faithful and devoted online, what more do we have to do? 

Also, many years ago, I wrote, “I had to learn that more spiritual activity did not equal more Christlikeness and that little efforts done with a well conditioned heart could bring great spiritual benefits.” In other words, it is not what you are doing that is most important or how much you are doing but the motivations and the state of your heart while doing it.

The goal of our spiritual activity should never be a way to earn anything – reputation, self satisfaction, pats on the back, honor and praise. The goals of our spiritual activity should be an awareness of God’s presence and love, to delight in his will, and for our heart to be bursting forth with love, joy, and peace. Humans like to quantify, track, and broadcast achievements but we are told in scripture that God is looking on the heart. That is where real progress is made and the Growing Up happens. 

So much of this happens in secret and just between you and God. If that doesn’t sound satisfying to you then you know what you need to work on in 2022.

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