Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village while on a European trip. As they walked around the quaint little town, one of the tourists saw an old man sitting on a park bench. In a rather patronizing way, the tourist asked, “Were any great men born in this village?”
The old man looked up and calmly replied, “Nope, only babies.”
A condescending question produced a profound response. Great men and women are not born, they are made. They learn. Acquire skills. Develop. Mature. In a word, they grow, which is our word of the week!
God expects Christians to grow.
The Bible commands, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). In fact, we should desire to grow just like a little baby desires to be fed when hungry. Peter put this way, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet 2:2)
In the context of church being equipped for ministry the apostle Paul exhorted, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:15).
Growth is a process. It takes time. It requires effort. It demands intentionality. A baby left to itself will not grow physically, intellectually, emotionally or relationally. The same is true for the babe in Christ in order to grow spiritually. If we are going to grow spiritually there are three things we should expect in the process.
(1) Growth involves Change.
The only constant in life is change! Since our lives our filled with change, accept it. Embrace it! And use it to your advantage. Believe YOU can change! You can grow! You can be a better you!
The Christian life is a life of Christ.. Christian commitment brings changes. A change in relationships. Attitudes. Habits. Lifestyle.
Don’t buy into the excuse, “that’s just the way I am.” If you do, you will never change! You will fail to grow!
(2) Growth involves Challenges. Growth is not easy. Just ask any parent of a two-year old! Or a twelve-year-old for that matter! There are obstacles to overcome. Problems to be solved. Struggles to resolve.
Christians still have temptations to overcome. The devil wants us back! And he will throw everything in our path to get us to hinder our Christian walk. The good news is that God is there to help us. Strengthen us. Empower us. (1 Cor. 10; 13; 1 Pet 5:7-8).
Christians will encounter the normal problems of living life. We are not exempt from trouble. Trials. And worry. God cares about our problems and will provide peace. Comfort. Hope.
We will struggle at time to remain faithful? Yes! That’s why so many of the New Testament letters were written to encourage us. Edify us. Spur us on.
(3) Growth involves Pain. The journey from infancy to adult is littered with skinned knees. Chipped teeth. Broken Bones. (Sorry to tell you that new parents!) In fact as our kids grow they will suffer emotional pain, as well. We all do.
Athletic participation involves pain. Training. Practice. Exercise. All involve pain. Paul pictures the Christian life with metaphors like a race, a boxing match, and solider in warfare. All of these invoke images of painful exercise. In fact the apostle graphically described the process in these terms.
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:25-27
Today, this week, commit to spiritual growth. Yes, it will require change, bring challenges, and cause pain, but the result will be joy! The joy of success! Growth! Victory! Just remember, no great men were born here. Only babies!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman