The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 1

Growing Spiritually in Christ
(“Increase with the increase of God” – Col 2:19b)

Undeniable growth is a natural phenomenon like the hairs on the head, or a seed exposed to moisture will develop into a plant, and soon bear fruit. When a tree starts to grow, it will let nothing hinder its long-term development: the stone pavements will be uplifted by its strong roots and the branches will even intertwine through fences and stone walls. So it is with spiritual growth.

For example, Jesus grew in every aspect of human life, according to the gospel writer, Luck (Lk 2:52), after his visit to Jerusalem. We too are encouraged to grow, not just by feeding on the pure milk of the Word, but also with strong meat. Peter ended his epistle by urging believers: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet: 3:18)

What are the ingredients in spiritual growth?

Two essential elements in spiritual growth include the following:

1. We need to spend time with Jesus allowing Him to rub off the edges of our pride and our self-sufficiency. That needs discipline to pray and glean from His Word in the Bible.

2. We need to learn to be obedient to our Lord. Peter tells us to be holy as our Lord is holy Himself (1 Pet 1:16). In obedience, when we realize our indulgence in certain things or activity is not appropriate, we drop it, stop thinking about it and cease from speaking about it. In so doing, we demonstrate our obedience.

Growing in Christ (Phil 1:21-30)

There is a saying, “If you are not ready to die, are you ready to live.” Paul learned this truth of the Christian life after a terrible bout of sickness that almost ended his life with a fellow worker, Epaphroditus. Hence, he said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (Phil 1:21). Our life comes from the Creator and Saviour, and the promise of eternal life comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Certainly, our closeness with our Lord will make growth in Him as a natural effect from being with Him each day. This closeness will not just help us to grow, but it also will enable us to bear fruits that will last.

Rapid Growth Towards Christ-likeness

F.A.S.T. way to attain the full measure of Christ!
F – FEAR of the Lord
A – ASK in faith
S – SUBMIT to God’s way
T – TRUST in the Lord

What does a growing Christian look like?

1. A growing Christian always seeks to know who Jesus is.

A favourite Sunday Sunday School chorus – “Everybody Ought to know” – ought to be the motto our our Christian life. Paul’s entire life aspiration was to know Christ and Him crucified, and nothing else. It was to become more than a conqueror in Christ in all circumstances. Knowing Him in an intimate way helps us to know the purpose we were created for, that is, His workmanship for the world to see the Father’s presence in us, (Matt 5:15). A growing Christian, therefore, makes it his or her goal to know Jesus personally.

2. A growing Christian embraces the growth process.

The growing process, when it is smooth and refined, should be a normal journey, but that may lack challenges for greater and stronger growth. Apostle Paul’s early growth was filled with anxiety, fear and retaliation from all kinds of people. From the Pharisees, he was confronted with sneer and disbelief about his conversion to Christianity. From the Apostles, he was met with great suspicion of maybe, being a spy from the Jews or even a prosecutor of the Christian faith. But, it was Barnabas who took the bold step to introduce him to the apostolic circle. Yet, Paul accepted all these as part of a normal process that he has to overcome without murmuring or grumbling. Praise the Lord his actions spoke louder than words. He grew in spiritual strength and faith to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time. (Acts 9:22-23)

3. A growing Christian learns how to handle conflicts

Conflicts in the Christian life is expected. Jesus’ parable of the stony and thorn-filled grounds prove that if there is no faith in Christ, the newly-grown plant will wither away or be choked, becoming fruitless. However, a Christian must learn to deny selfish motives and bear the cross-painful conflicts to become worthy of becoming a worthy disciple of Christ. Imagine Paul having to handle death threats in three instances in his early Christian life:

(a) Jews tried to kill him in Damascus
(b) Christians initially rejected him in Jerusalem, and
(c) The Grecian Christians tried to kill him.

Yet, by God’s grace and strength, he sailed through the storms of his spiritual life without much upheavals.

Today, growing Christians have different encounters in our modern life. Secularism, promiscuity, and materialism afflict Christians in the many spheres of working, familial and personal life. To remain faithful to the Master is never an easy task in our daily interaction with all those around us. Yet, the similar principles of growing still applies. The task of overcoming these difficulties and temptations is in God who has called us out of darkness into His Kingdom of marvellous light. We need to work out our faith in the midst of the storms, and know that all things will work for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). We need to deny ourselves, and take up His cross, and follow Him. For some of us, we tend to deny Christ in all that we do, and instead raise our own banner for self-glory. The one who can deny him or herself will be able to grow in Christ. The other who promotes him or herself will die in his or her pride.

A growing Christian learns to relate with and fellowship with fellow-believers. We are all in the same kingdom, acknowledging one Father, Lord and God (Eph 4:1-11) and are all in His family. Being brothers and sisters in Christ, we are in the same boat facing the same situation; in the same space for interaction and experiencing the same conditions in Christ. Therefore, as in the early church were to be together, bearing one another’s burden, pray for one another and mutually encourage one another in the faith. On the same token, conflicts arise in such gatherings due to differences among fellow believers. Yet, in all of Paul and Peter’s epistles, they encourage the mutual support of one another in the churches.

Whenever problems emerge, our task is to pray, act and wisely handle them, and by God’s grace they will be resolved. Hebrews said it clearly, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, ” (Heb 20:24-25)

In an Ivy League campus, there was a student who suffered infantile paralysis from a very young age, but he looked positive, and approached life with confident and optimism. He worked hard and received several scholastic honours and earned great respect from his classmates. One day a classmate said, “Too bad that you have to spend the rest of your life on crutches. With such a misfortune, how do you accept life in such a positive and confident way?” His response to the classmate was: “The disease may have touched my legs, but it never touched my heart.”

In growing, we must not let the outward appearances to deceive ourselves or dominate our spirituality. Our hearts must be touched by Christ. With this perspective, we move on to ensure that we are always alive in Christ, and growing. To this end, our Church will always be a praying Church, a determined Church that reaches out; a Spirit-controlled Church, a Church that goes out to draw in people in this lost and hopeless world.

Pastor Bob Phee 

Leave a Reply