It’s Time to Grow :: by Ron and Nathele Graham

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Paul wrote these words to a very troubled group of Christians. Corinth was a city which was steeped in paganism. Most of the population lived a life of sin and debauchery which was acceptable to their pagan minds. The Christians who lived there were drawn out of that culture and they should have grown beyond participating in such worldly ways.

They should have grown in their Christian understanding to know what God views as sin, yet the Ekklesia at Corinth were allowing the evils of that culture to seep into their congregation. Paul’s letter was intended to correct the problems and encourage them to grow in God’s love rather than embracing the culture around them. In truth a similar letter could be written to the Ekklesia today. We live in a culture that embraces all forms of evil. Instead of standing firm on God’s Word many Christians have not grown in their knowledge of the Lord and embrace the same ungodly things the Corinthians embraced.

When babies are born there is much they have to learn. They enter this world only knowing how to be selfish. They get hungry, they cry. They have a dirty diaper, they cry. Their thoughts are only about their own well-being and comfort. Babies do have needs but they cannot stay in that beginning state of self-centeredness and be healthy…they need to grow. As a baby grows there comes understanding that more is expected of him.

He learns to walk instead of being carried. Instead of being fed he learns to feed himself. He moves from just drinking milk to eating meat. When a person accepts Christ and is born again the growth process starts again. It is through a study of Scripture that a babe in Christ learns to grow in their understanding and application of Scripture. Actions and words need to conform to Christ’s ways and not the ways of the world. Study of God’s Word will promote growth in Christian ways.

We represent Christ in all we do. When we are on our job or visiting with friends our love for Jesus should show. People notice. If we are acting in a way contrary the actions of someone who loves Christ, we need to study His Word and make changes in our ways. Our words and actions must be based on God’s Word. Is there a co-worker who gossips and undermines others in your workplace? If you have grown in your Christian walk you won’t join in and your life will teach Christ’s ways to others.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

The writer of Hebrews points out that there comes a time when a babe must grow and be able to teach others in the ways of God. If a Christian has not grown past the infant stage of just drinking milk then their ways will be of the world, not of Christ. Christians who sit in a pew on Sunday but do not study God’s word during the week fall into that category of only feeding on milk. Most worship services are routine…sing, make announcements, collect money, listen to a quick sermon, sing again, and then go out into the pagan culture around us unarmed and only fed on milk. It’s easy to be taught erroneously from the pulpit if you don’t study on your own. God’s Word is the meat which causes healthy growth in a Christian.

Even though we have very good Bible translations available today many Christians don’t bother to read and grow beyond knowing that “Jesus loves you.” That is important to know, but dig deeper. Why did He need to be crucified? The answer to that is found in Genesis. Jesus loves us enough to pay the debt owed by Adam’s choice to sin. Do you understand why evolution is a lie? God’s word tells us that He created everything in six literal days but secular humanists say everything evolved and if there is no God then there is no sin and we all can live like the Corinthians.

If evolution were true then sin and death have always existed, and that takes you back to the first question of why did Jesus need to be crucified. How about the Rapture or prophecy? Most denominations don’t allow the congregation to grow from feeding on milk to feeding on meat. Answers to modern day issues are found in the Bible, but our modern preachers aren’t much different than the Corinthians. Instead of standing firm on God’s Word pagan practices creep in. Many of God’s truths are not taught because the man in the pulpit does not take a stand for Christ. The entirety of God’s word needs to be studied in order to apply it properly to our everyday living. That’s how we grow in our Christian walk.

Peter was also concerned about the growth of those Christians he wrote to, and by extension to us. His second letter encourages the reader to keep in mind the words of the prophets and the commandment of the apostles. He acknowledged the wisdom of Paul’s words. Paul’s words are meat not milk, and a babe in Christ cannot understand, nor can anyone who does not know Christ. Paul’s words, as well as those written by Peter, John, Matthew, Isaiah, Daniel, David, and so on are meant to help us know God better and grow.

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” ( 2 Peter 3:17-18).

It is easy to lead an unstudied person away from the truth, and many have been taught error. When Christian growth is stunted non-Christian lies sound plausible. Many are being led astray by the New Age movement and unstudied Christians embrace the teaching that we all worship the same God and all paths lead to Heaven. Well, you can only believe these false teachings if you have not studied for yourself and only listen to the ramblings of those who speak lies.

The problems in the Corinthian fellowship were very similar to the problems of today. They had not grown past drinking milk. Instead of following Christ the sinfulness around them seemed acceptable and they allowed it into the congregation. Paul pointed out a list of ungodly things that were a part of life in the pagan city of Corinth.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

We see the same sins everywhere today, and they are infiltrating our congregations. Many preachers tickle the ears of the congregation by not teaching these as sin. To grow in your Christian walk you need to understand this list and if any of those lifestyles are a part of your life you need to move away from them.

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Christians are to grow in understanding of what God desires. Understand His love, study His word, and strive to live to please Him. It is a lifelong process of learning and growing. We were justified in God’s eyes when we truly accept Christ as our Savior, then the process of sanctification begins – that is growing from milk to meat. As we study His word we get the meat that helps us turn from the sin that holds us back from growing. We come to know Jesus and grow to be like Him.

Here is an exercise you can do to strengthen your walk with Him. We know from the entirety of Scripture that God is love. John says it this way:

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

Study your Bible and learn about God’s love. Now, let’s go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 13:

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

The word “charity” in these verses comes from the Greek word “agapē” and is more often translated “love.” It is used in the above verse from 1 John. “God is agapē [love].” Now for the exercise. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-9 again but replace the word “charity” with God…Jesus. Now read it again and put your name in place of charity.

Do you suffer long, or are you quick to anger? Are you kind or do you gossip and hurt others? Sink your teeth into God’s word and learn what it means to not envy or puff yourself up. Apply this to your life and grow in your walk with Jesus.

Wean yourself off of milk and move from being a babe in Christ to being strong in your faith. Now is the time to grow.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham