Children grow. Flowers grow. Gardens grow. Trees grow. Dreams grow.
We like, and usually expect, positive natural growth in life. When we see an infant years later, we act somewhat surprised at how much they’ve grown, but nonetheless we expect growth and development. We don’t think much about it, but imagine the shock that would occur if there was no growth in that infant? Parents and doctors of infants that are not growing quickly become concerned and begin to strategize ways to determine what is hindering the growth. A plan is made and steps are taken. Growth is vital to life and living.
So what about believers in Jesus Christ? Do we expect growth in the life of a believer, in ourselves and others who claim to know Christ? Is there shock, resulting in action, on the part of the body of Christ when a young believer (or any believer) is not growing? Do we carefully determine what is hindering the growth, and strategize action steps to ensure the spiritual growth of this believer?
The New Testament writers of Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, talk about growth:
- but God who causes the growth – 1 Corinthians 3:7
- to grow up in all aspects into Him – Ephesians 4:15
- grows with a growth which is from God – Colossian 2:19
- but grow in the grace and knowledge – 2 Peter 3:18
Let me get right at it, are YOU growing in your walk with Christ? In my short thirteen years as a youth pastor and biblical counselor, I have noticed some common hindrances to spiritual growth, as well as some common characteristics of those who are growing. Interestingly enough, the hindrances are simply a lack of the characteristics of the growing believer. Test them out. Search the Scriptures yourself.
Common characteristics I have noticed about believers that are growing in their personal walk with Christ. They…
- have a personal relationship with Christ, one that has a clear point when forgiveness was sought for personal sin; a lifelong commitment is made to trust and follow God. This person pursues Christ and continues to improve at putting Christ first.
- take in wholesome daily nourishment and process it – like a growing, healthy human being eats healthy food, a growing believer receives nourishment from regular, meaningful, planned, personal time in God’s word. This goes from receiving help initially to being independent and disciplined. They hide God’s word in their heart.
- talk to God – Growing believers understand that they are in a growing relationship with God and He wants to hear from them. The humble child of God that longs to learn and grow Adores God, Confesses sin, Thanks Him, and gives their requests (or Supplications), to the Lord (A.C.T.S.).
- faithfully participate and serve in a local church. They are not bench warmers, but they are doers. They aren’t talkers, but they use their words to influence others toward greater love and service for Christ. Those growing are using their God given gift/skills for God’s work.
- love others. People are first, “things” are second. Growing believers develop strong personal relationships with other believers and actively demonstrate God’s love to the unsaved “neighbor” he encounters along his life’s journey, especially to the person in need.
- proclaims the truth. This person stands up for the truth. This believer continues to naturally share the “Good News” with others and sees his role as an ambassador for Christ and an alien in this world.
- understand stewardship. Believers understand that their body, their family, everything they have belongs to God and it’s on loan with the purpose of being used to bring God glory.
- view trial and suffering as God’s divine tool of refinement and growth. Though hard, the unexpected sickness, disease, tragedy, and even death of family, friends, or self, is viewed as part of His plan for personal growth, gospel growth, and giving Him glory.
- say “no” to things that can potentially harm their relationship with Christ, and they say it even when it’s hard and when necessary. There is confidence in saying “no” and enforcing “no” when God’s word clearly teaches against something, when conscience is in doubt, or when wisdom deems it best.
- give regularly and sacrificially. They give from the heart to meet a need and honor God…even when times are tough. They look for ways to give instead of looking for reasons why not to give.
This is not a complete list, but I believe it’s a good guide according to the New Testament. Now, first quiz question is, can you put Scripture with each of these? If not, that’s one indicator you have some room to grow. Second quiz question, would those who know you the best say you have each of these characteristics? And, would they say you are getting stronger?
What needs to happen now? You need to GROW. Pick one of these areas to focus on this month. Pray, study, get the help of others who are more spiritually mature.