Christian Growth Is Essential :: By Grant Phillips

Maturing takes time. Whether we’re learning mathematics, science, how to play a musical instrument, cooking or baking, carpentry, or even how to walk, we must start with the basics, then keep adding knowledge upon knowledge until we achieve a goal. There aren’t many of us who can just pick up a guitar and start playing it, but even with the gifted folks, they too must mature a step at a time.

The same is true with the Christian life, but it’s much more than just about aging. Everything ages. The Lord expects us to mature, to grow up, as His child just as we mature under the tutelage of our earthly parents. As each birthday comes around (aging), we “should” be a little more mature than we were the previous year. That is normally the case in our earthly lives, but how do we stack up in our Christian lives?

Far too many Christians are still spiritual teenagers, and we know that most teenagers already know everything. It’s the parents that are stupid. They’re in their own little world of supreme knowledge that adults just don’t get. Christian teenagers need to continue to develop and work at an adult spiritual attitude toward God and others.

And then there are the Christian babies, those who have just been saved, and those who just choose to remain babies. Those who choose to remain Christian babies are the ones who are always whining about something and interested in only their pet desires.

Please understand, I certainly am not claiming to be fully mature. No folks, I’m still ripening on the vine. We are all growing in spiritual maturity, and none of us will reach full maturity upon this earth. The thing is, regardless of our level of spiritual maturity, the Lord expects us to continue to grow and not become stagnant.

The Lord said through Paul that He wants our faith to grow. “Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand” (2 Corinthians 2:15, emphasis mine). Well, how can our faith grow unless there is something going on in our life that will require us to exercise our faith, just as we exercise our bodily muscles?

Sometimes sickness comes upon us, or family problems, or a job loss, or … you get the point. When those times do come in our lives, and they will, we must use our faith in Him to care for us. God knows this and wants us to depend on Him. I have had to depend on Him many times through faith, and so have many of you. Often what we experience is not pleasant. We know that, and it is so much easier to get through it when we depend upon Jesus.

David, Israel’s greatest king, experienced much heartache in his life, much from his own doing, but even when he messed up, he finally came around and trusted upon the Lord. He kept maturing, and he said the following about his faith.

“The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever” (Psalms 23:1-6).

Every Christian is part of the body of Christ, and each part of His body should complement all the other parts. We need Jesus instructing and guiding our very existence. It is He who is our Head and our source of maturity. It is from the Head that every other part of the body needs to grow in faith and action.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15, emphasis mine).

Have you ever noticed that when someone is saved, or “born again,” as Jesus says, they are eager to get a Bible and start reading? Also, over a period of time, they may lose much of that enthusiasm. Why is that? I believe it is due to Satan’s attempts at discouragement. This makes it doubly important for those who are more mature as Christians to provide as much encouragement as they can. In other words, we must support each other.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, emphasis mine).

Anyone who has taken care of a baby knows how that baby yearns for milk and will cry until they receive it. Once you put that bottle toward their mouth, they grab at it and are satisfied, but we need more than milk to grow. Basic milk is fine for babies, but as they grow, they will need food they can chew. The same is true with a newborn Christian. Unfortunately, many are not getting the meat.

It would be wonderful if each local church could and would provide more mature Christian individuals who would mentor newborn Christians. Some local churches do just that, but far too many do not. Would there be anything wrong in a more mature Christian taking it upon themselves to be this needed mentor? Of course not.

With more mature Christian mentors and even classes for those who have recently been saved, these new Christians would have a good start in what is proclaimed in this next verse.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18, emphasis mine).

Maturing as a Christian is learning that it’s all about Him, not us. As Jesus Himself said, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). It’s learning to keep our eyes off us and on Him.

Another important aspect is that the Holy Spirit not only lives within us and is our guarantee of salvation, but He is also our teacher and guidance counselor. He wants to work through us to make us more like Christ. There is one very important thing that many Christians don’t consider, though, and that is the Holy Spirit is there to help us mature, but He only uses one textbook, the Bible. How can anyone ever expect to grow in Christ and never crack open the only textbook God has ever provided? The Spirit of God guides us through His Word. Those who think they can “wing it” apart from His Word will remain immature in their spiritual growth. They will always be spiritual teens and babies, never maturing into adulthood.

Adrian Rogers used to say, “Someone said the Bible is such a wonderful book. It is shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without fear of drowning, and so deep that the scholars can swim in it and never touch bottom.”

Hosea said, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a).

However, this doesn’t need to be, for the Lord says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

He continues by saying, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit guides us in our walk through the Word of God to mature us so that His light reflects from us to others (letting our light shine). The goal of every Christian should be to glorify Jesus in our lives through our maturing in His Word.

Grant Phillips

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