Pastor Bonar focuses the spotlight on several ubiquitous obstacles that will hinder your growth in the Christian faith.
The full article can be found here.
XIV. HINDRANCES TO AVOID
Many things can hinder growth and fruit-bearing. Mark the following:
'So we see they could not enter in because of unbelief' (Heb 3:19). This poisons the tree at its very root. Christ can do no mighty works in us, or for us, because of unbelief (Matt 13:58). 'Only believe' (Mark 5:36). 'Have faith in God' (Mark 11:22). 'He that believeth' (Mark 9:23). 'He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water' (John 7:38).
Want of love
No love, no fruit; much love, much fruit (Heb 10:24). 'Labour of love' means the labour which love produces, to which love stimulates (1 Thess 1:3). Love is by its very nature fruit-bearing. When 'love waxes cold' (Matt 24:12), when we 'leave our first love' (Rev 2:4), then everything that deserves the name of fruit dies away. If there be fruit at all, it is poor and unripe. Our zeal is the zeal of Jehu (2 Kings 10:16); our warmth is false fire; our energy is the vigour of the flesh; our work is the work of men urged on by a false stimulus; our words, however earnest, are the words of excited self. If any one ask, How am I to get love? I answer, Look to Jesus, deal with Him about it, learn anew to love by learning anew His love to you. I do not say, 'Work, and that will stimulate you to love.' No. It is not first work, and then love; but first love, and then work. Get more love by dealing more with Jesus personally, and then love will set you all on fire. You will work unbidden; you will work in the liberty of fellowship and in the joy of love (1 Thess 3:12; Gal 5:6; 2 Cor 5:14).
Selfishness (Mark 8:34)
Self in all its forms is a hindrance to our growth (Rom 14:7). Self-will, self-sufficiency, self-indulgence, self-importance, self-glory, self-seeking, self-brooding,--all these mar fruitfulness. Denying self is the beginning, the middle, and the end of our course here, as followers of Christ. Selfishness takes the form of covetousness, or love of money; of luxury, or love of meats and drinks, and the good things of this life; of religious dissipation, or love of excitement; of spiritual restlessness, or running from meeting to meeting, or book to book, or opinion to opinion, or minister to minister; of craving for religious stimulants and spices, with loathing of what is tame or common, however good and true. These are some of the forms of selfishness which destroy both growth and fruitfulness. How can a man grow when he is pampering self instead of crucifying the flesh; when he is indulging and fondling the old man instead of nailing him to the cross; when he is enjoying all softness and ease and worldly comfort, instead of enduring hardness, and taking up his cross and mortifying his members which are upon the earth (Rom 8:13; Gal 5:24; Col 3:5)?
'The love of money is the root of all evil' (1 Tim 6:10). Few things are more hateful in a Christian man than this; few things more completely destroy his influence; and few things more sadly or more justly make him the scorn of the world than eagerness for money, or niggardliness in parting with it. The covetous man cannot grow. He must ever remain a stunted Christian. 'Filthy lucre' is poison to the soul. If we do not 'make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness' by laying out our substance for God, it will become the blight of spirituality, the destruction of our religious life (Prov 30:8; 1 Tim 6:6-10). Be generous, be large-hearted, be open-handed, be loving, be free in giving, if you would grow.
Self-satisfaction in any shape, or self-admiration of any kind, in regard to person, or property, or accomplishments, or position; these are immensely hurtful to spiritual life. True godliness prospers only in the lowly heart; the heart which, in proportion as it becomes more and more satisfied with Christ, becomes more and more dissatisfied with itself. If the Master was meek and lowly, shall the disciple be anything else?
To take things easy is by some reckoned a great virtue; and not to get warm or excited or zealous, is regarded as proof of a noble and well-balanced mind. We might admit this to be the case, were it confined to worldly matters. To lose a fortune, and yet be calm, is well. To endure provocation and be unruffled is also well. But to take religion easy is not so to be commended. Easy-going religionists are strangers to the fervour of John or Paul. To be contented while uncertain of our salvation is something very awful. To be contented while making no progress, or perhaps going back, is nearly as awful. Easy-minded religion is just the same as lifeless coldness, though perhaps not so repulsive to others. The good natured formality of thousands is just the hateful lukewarmness of Laodicea.
But let these hints suffice. They will help a little, and guide a little, and teach a little, and warn a little. In reading them, let there be much self-questioning and self-applying. 'Is it I, Lord, is it I?'