As a child we never had to think about growth.
It just happened as we ate and played and went to school and played and slept only to wake up to do it all again another day. The only ones who worried about our growth were our moms and dads, and maybe just our moms. It seemed like we always grew out of our dress shoes on a Sunday morning or we always had to buy new clothes that were too big at the beginning of the school because our mom knew we would grow into them. When the first baby tooth turned loose it scared us until we found out it was a natural part of growth and that new ones—permanent ones!—would replace them. Some of us still remember the pains in the calves of our legs at night that our moms called “growing pains.”
In a few years growing up stopped and we were as tall as we were ever going to be. At precisely that moment, whether we knew it or not, the battle to keep from growing out began. We will fight against that kind of growth the rest of our lives.
From School to Life
Most of our growing up years involved schooling, first in the basics of communication, numbers, and a fundamental sense of who we were as citizens. After varying numbers of years we were graduated from the school system never to return.
The learning processes, however, did not stop. We had to learn how to live and how to make a living. Some of us kept going to schools that specialized in skills, facts, and concepts to help us become productive members of society. Our mental growth became our responsibility and we either reaped the rewards for growth or we suffered the consequences of the lack of knowledge and skills that locked us into poverty and dependency on others.
Like so many other physical dimensions of life, there is a spiritual parallel to physical and mental growth.
- The Bible is clear that we should grow up in the knowledge and skills required to be a productive member of the Kingdom of God.
- Christian maturity doesn’t happen just because time passes. It is all too common to find believers in Jesus who are advanced in years but still have not grown up in God.
Christian growth is not automatic or accidental—it is intentional. We need spiritual food and exercise.
- The Bible says the Word of God is both baby food and adult food—milk and meat.
- Jesus said believing in Him at the Table of the Lord was like taking bread and wine for the spirit.
- Jesus said that doing the will of God was “food” that the disciples knew nothing about.
- Jesus told us the Holy Spirit would be a well of living water flowing inside of us.
If we regularly partake of the spiritual food and drink of unending life the Lord offers, we will grow. We will mature and no longer be aged children. To grow strong demands disciplined, consistent exercise. Spiritual strength is the same; spiritual disciplines are a sure thing—if we do them we will have unlimited spiritual growth.
More than the Passing of Time
It is time to put away any childish notion that the passing time will make us grow in the Lord. It just isn’t so. For the disciplined believer who serves the Lord growth does not have to diminish with the passing of time, we can grow spiritually even as the outward person fades. One day we will draw a final weak breath of earthly atmosphere and the next breath will be laden with the scent of glory and our growth in spirit will continue for all eternity.
1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” …”My food… is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
John 6:28-29; 32-36
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent…I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Lord Jesus, help me grow in You today! When this day ends and this allotted sunshine fades, may the evening find me stronger than I am at this moment. May my knowledge of You be deeper and sweeter and may I look back on a day of obedience to Your will. As I rest tonight in the safety of Your grace, may my unconscious mind consolidate the day’s learning into permanent growth. Tomorrow, I will start all over again, but I will be different for today, by Your Spirit, I will have experienced growth! All for You Lord Jesus, all for You! Amen.
More about Jesus
Words: Eliza E. Hewitt; Music: John R. Sweney
1. More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of his saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.
More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.
2. More about Jesus let me learn,
More of his holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.
3. More about Jesus in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing his voice in ev’ry line,
Making each faithful saying mine.
4. More about Jesus on his throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More if His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of peace.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved