Identity and Nurturing Spiritual Growth

– Tessy Mathew and Sujith Oommen

The in-house Youth Fellowship discussion led by Sujith Oommen, brought together young families from the Mar Thoma church. During this gathering, participants actively shared their experiences and explored the deep themes of Identity and Spiritual Growth.


As per definition, identity is the unique set of characteristics that can be used to identify a person as themself and no one else. It defines who you are.

  • Why is identity important?

Identity creates a sense of belonging to a society, family, friends, culture, ethnicity etc. It helps individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses and provides a foundation for personal growth and development. 

  • What does the Bible say about our identity in Christ?

Just like how children resemble their parents in many ways, as Christians – our identity is a child of God. John 1:12-13 says Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. As children of God and followers of Christ, we are supposed to portray the qualities of God to others. That’s how we should shape our identity in Christ and we should be confident in our identity in Christ. True self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem come not from starting with “self”, but from starting with Jesus – placing our confidence in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! In Christ, you are a new creation. God has made you new. The old things that used to define you have been taken away. You are new because through Jesus your sin has been paid for. You who were a sinner are now righteous. You have been restored in right standing before God. Now you are a child of God!

Spiritual Growth

  • How do you define spiritual growth?

Spiritual growth involves learning more about and leaning into God. We all start somewhere when we become Christians. At the start of our journeys, some of us may be more familiar with God’s word while others may be completely new to the concept of salvation.

  • How do we ensure that we are making progress spiritually?

Spiritual growth can be reflected through our actions. When we want to grow spiritually, we can start by asking Jesus for help. Some other ways we can promote spiritual growth include:

  • Know yourself – Who are we in Christ? All Christians are called to be “in the world” but not “of the world”. We are only supposed to do things that are acceptable to God.
  • Discipline yourself – Prayer should not be a vain repetition. We need to spend quality time in prayer and meditate on the word of God. This helps us to discern false teachings. Anything that is contrary to the Bible is not from God. This also helps us develop a relationship with God, without being a lukewarm Christian. In the book Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall, she shares her personal discoveries about how surprisingly down-to-earth God wants our prayers to be.
  • Push yourself – Consistently putting into practice the lessons we’ve learned from Bible/Sermons in our daily lives like showing love to others, connecting with other Christians, obeying the Word of God etc.

As parents, when Jesus is knocking on our door, instead of opening the door for our kids, we are supposed to make that knock louder. This way, kids can have their own personal relationship with God. Finally, spiritual maturity does not happen overnight. As the song goes “He’s Still Working on Me”. God doesn’t just snap his fingers so that it happens instantly. He does it incrementally.

Spiritual Gifts & Fruits of the Spirit

Spiritual gifts are given to everyone by the Holy Spirit to build the church. As 1 Corinthians 12:8-12 says, the Spirit distributes the gifts to each one, just as he determines 

  • message of wisdom
  • message of knowledge 
  • faith
  • gifts of healing
  • miraculous powers
  • prophecy
  • distinguishing between spirits
  • speaking in different kinds of tongues
  • interpretation of tongues

In Romans 12:3-8 says, Paul urges us to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

  • If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith
  • if it is serving, then serve
  • if it is teaching, then teach
  • if it is to encourage, then give encouragement
  • if it is giving, then give generously
  • if it is to lead, do it diligently
  • if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully

To know/identify the Spiritual Gifts:

  • Pray and seek God’s wisdom to reveal it to you
  • Ask others or partner with your spouse/friend
  • Pay attention to what you enjoy doing for the church/others

As 1 Peter 4:10 says Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Fruits of the Spirit are qualities/traits that is developed within us over time. They are what we produce by our own actions, decisions & thoughts. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are manifestations of the Fruits of the Spirit.

To know/identify the Fruits of the Spirit:

  • Pray and seek God’s help to grow the fruits of the spirit in us.
  • Ask others or partner with your spouse/friend.

As Mathew 7:19-20 says Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. It is our responsibility to walk in the Spirit. As we do, we develop this fruit that is the character of Christ in our lives. This will cause us to grow spiritually, and be a powerful witness to unbelievers as well.

Let us place our priorities in Scripture rather than anything the world could offer, so that we could find our identity in Christ. May God bless us abundantly on our journey of faith and spiritual development.

About Sujith Oommen

Sujith Oommen is a member of the member of the Mar Thoma Church of San Francisco and is the Trustee of the Parish Yuvajana Sakhyam and Young Family Fellowship.