Growing In the Faith
When my two year-old-daughter grabs for a favorite toy and finds it to be stuck, then she screams and pulls as hard as she can until either the toy pops loose or somebody else shows up for the rescue. By the time she turns nine, we would hope and expect that she would handle a toy mishap a little more civil. Hopefully she would be out of diapers then too. We understand where her level of maturity is at and we certainly have hopes for growth and improvement in the future.
The Apostle Paul understood the level of maturity early on with the Corinthians and he taught them accordingly. Unfortunately, later on they had not progressed spiritually as they should have and this had to be addressed:
1 Corinthians 3:2-3, “2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (ESV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews also offers a rebuke for those who had not advanced spiritually as they should have:
Hebrews 5:12-14, “12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (ESV)
We should evaluate our own spiritual status. Are we in need of a similar rebuke for not growing up in the faith?
Consider the following points as indicators of our level of maturity (this is not a comprehensive list):
1) Are we seeking after God’s word?
1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”
Psalm 1:1-2, “1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
2) Are we finding how we can contribute to the function of the body?
1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”
3) Are we casting off the old-self and putting on the new?
Colossians 3:9-10, “9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
4) Are we praying as we should?
1 Thess 5:17, “pray without ceasing.”
5) Are we thinking about the needs of others?
Philippians 2:3-5, “3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
6) Do we see the benefit in facing trials?
James 1:2-3, “2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
7) How do we speak?
Matthew 12:34, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
It was once said, “He who moves not forward, goes backward” (Johann Wolfgang). How true this is! We can never be comfortable where we are at. It is Christ that will move us forward and sin that will stunt our growth. Our society places a lot of value on improving our health, financial status, resume, and education, but are we focusing on the most important of them all - our spiritual growth.