All children of God need to grow.
We understand the need for physical development when we consider how babies grow to become healthy adults. The same is true of our spiritual life. When a person is “born again” and becomes a child of God, the expectation is that he will grow toward spiritual maturity (Eph 4:12-15).
For growth to occur, the following must be present.
The desire to grow
“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,…” (1 Peter 2:2).
Strong words. The desire must be evident. We must yearn for spiritual food to grow spiritually. Sadly, some may not see the NEED to grow. They seem quite satisfied remaining ‘a baby’. After all, a baby has no responsibilities! Others will change the diapers, see to the infant’s feeding and attend to his needs. But surely it is not the goal of the Christian life to remain a spiritual baby.
Proper nutrition is needed for healthy growth. No right thinking parent will feed a child with candies as the main diet. Indeed, parents will gradually wean a child off milk, and introduce solid food as he grows. The desire is for the child to have adequate nutrition to provide for proper physical development.
Listen to the reprimand in Hebrews 5:11-14, to long-time believers who have not progressed beyond the basics.
“ … though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, …” (Heb 5:11-14).
Such a state reflects no hunger for God’s Word. May we not be like that! But the ones who truly seek after the Lord will be like the Bereans who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11). They searched the Scriptures “every day”. They verified what they heard from Paul by examining Scriptures!
Exercise is needed
Growth requires nourishment as well as exercise. An athlete needs to eat well and train well, in order to grow strong and develop endurance. A musician will need to practice over and over again to produce brilliant music. A child develops muscles even as he progresses from crawling to walking to running.
God’s Word gives nourishment. But it needs to be put into practice. Through applying God’s truth, the child of God will be strengthened and will grow.
Be patient and persevere on
Growth requires time. Children do not become full grown adults instantly. Likewise, we do not expect spiritual maturity overnight. Some believers may be in a hurry. They sometimes become impatient with themselves and get discouraged.
But time and God’s refinement are needed. Very often, our faith is strengthened when we go through challenging circumstances. And through that we mature, experiencing the reality of God’s truth.
James therefore gave this practical advice:
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:3-4).
A child learns to ride a bicycle wobbling at first and through a few knocks and falls. But as he perseveres, he gains confidence and will soon enjoy a pleasant ride.
The Lord desires all His children to grow. Disciples of Christ must grow toward spiritual maturity. There must be regular intake of God’s Word for nourishment. And as we apply God’s truth in our lives, our faith will be strengthened and we will grow in our walk.
What is your plan for regular intake of God’s Word? When you face the various circumstances along life’s journey, do you seek to apply what God has revealed to you in His Word? Do you take serious steps to deepen your spiritual life, so that you will be strong and not be tossed about by all kinds of influences? Do you have brothers and sisters to journey with you in this phase of life’s journey?
Our prayer is that each child of God worshipping in YCKC will grow toward spiritual maturity.
– Pastoral message by David L.T. Yap, Advisory Pastor & Elder, YCKC bulletin 2 & 3 Feb 2013