Summary: This message sets the tone for why we need to grow in maturity as followers of Jesus. It is not just something for leaders and new believers. We are all called to grow. That spiritual maturing is marked by the phrase, "More and more."
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As we begin the New Year, did you make any New Year’s resolutions? One of the best things about the New Year is that when the calendar turns over we have the opportunity to symbolically wipe the slate clean. We can start anew as we strive to grow.
I know I have some goals for personal growth. I’d like to lose some weight this year. I am so happy that we have organized a Healthy Christians FCC initiative. I have a goal of being more organized. Do you think someone could start and organized Christians FCC initiative too? I’m tired of misplacing my wallet and my car keys. These are personal growth goals that I have.
But I also have some spiritual growth goals. Deep down I know as a leader of this church how important my own spiritual life is to the health of this body. I don’t think I say that from ego. I don’t say it from an inflated view of my self importance. I KNOW this church body here can function without me. I’m not irreplaceable, and I never will be.
But I know my imperfections. And it was drummed into my head during Bible College that if I am not growing, it will likely be reflected in the church where I pastor. I know the harm I can do to God’s Kingdom if I do not reflect the character of Jesus more and more. I know my personal need to be growing closer to the likeness of Jesus every day. So a major New Year’s resolution I have made with myself is to work on growing spiritually.
Now before you say, “What does that have to do with me?” Or before you think, “I’m glad to hear that. Every church needs a pastor who is growing”, I hope that you understand the need for your own spiritual growth as well. My growth does not automatically mean your growth.
My purpose today is to convince you to set your own spiritual growth goals today.
Why is it important?
It is important because we are to ALL grow up as disciples of Jesus. We are all to gain spiritual maturity. Let me read some passages to you as we look to develop the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives.
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may GROW UP in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to write in chapter 6….
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be TAKEN FORWARD TO MATURITY…
We are called to become mature as followers of Jesus Christ. It isn’t a natural process of time. It doesn’t just happen. And it does not happen overnight.
Let me illustrate that with two sports analogies.
I think one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL is Jerry Rice. He still owns three NFL records: career receptions, career receiving yards, and career receiving touchdowns. He is now retired, and he elected into the NFL Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Now Jerry Rice had some natural ability, but other guys at his position have been faster and taller. Natural skill wise they matched up with Jerry Rice.