Summary: Enhancing one’s Christian witness by following the Bible’s amazing formula.
MATHEMATICS NEVER CAME EASY TO ME while in school. Can you identify with me? I mean I really had to work hard at it. And wouldn’t you know that a few years after graduating from high school I found myself working in a testing laboratory which meant working with mathematical formulas constantly. The various tests required accurate calculations, and I had a weakness when it came to simple arithmetic. At first I thought God was playing a cruel joke on me, but eventually this actually worked to my benefit because it forced me to depend more on Christ in everything, which enhanced my witness.
Now I know that the Bible is not a textbook on mathematics, but I also know that it has a lot to say about arithmetic. If you follow its amazing formula, it will enhance your Christian witness. Let me explain.
Addition: 2 Pet 1:5-7: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
Spiritual growth is a never-ending process and an important dynamic for all believers. It is absolutely crucial for man reasons. First, it tones our spiritual muscles for the stresses we find in the world. The person without a deep well of spiritual resources is apt to cave in to our culture’s pressures. The Christian with a firm and growing faith will still have problems, but will also have the inner strength to handle them.
Second, spiritual growth puts a wall around us to protect us from sin, so that we can fend off the attacks of Satan. As we grow in knowledge of God’s Word, we can repel those fiery darts hurled at us.
Third, spiritual growth will help us model Christ to others. People today are searching for examples of godliness and our lives can become shining reflections of what God can do as He continually transforms us.
I read about a woman who grew backward. She lived in Virginia some years ago. The Virginia Medical Monthly carried her story: She had grown normally and had three children. Life was great until her husband died when the children were in high school. The mother doubles her devotion to the children. But at that point, something happened within her. She snapped. Whether it was the result of trauma or stress, we do not know. She changed her clothes to those of a twenty-year-old and joined in her children’s parties and fun.
In a few years the children noticed that as they grew older their mother was growing younger. Psychiatrist call it “personality regression,” which means a person is walking backward. Usually such people stop going backward at a certain age. But not this woman.
She slipped backward at the rate of one year for every three or four months that went forward. When she was 61 she acted like a 6-year old. Eventually she was institutionalized, where she insisted on wearing the clothes appropriate to that age. She played with toys and babbled like a child.
Then she became like a 3-year-old.; she spilled her food, crawled on the floor, and cried “Mama.” Finally she went back over the line and died.
While this may be an extreme example, I do believe that if we do not fill our minds with God’s Word, we too will shrink spiritually, or at best we will remain spiritual “babes.”
God has willed our growth and devised a plan. This plan includes the earnest study of His Word. He wants to ADD to our lives perpetually as we expose ourselves to His truth.
Subtraction: 1 Pet 2:1-2: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,”
When a person becomes a Christian he often undergoes some radical life changes. This is especially true if he has had an immoral background. Through the first steps of spiritual growth and self-denial, he gets rid of the large, obvious sins. But, sad to say, many believers stop there. They don’t go on to eliminate the little sins that clutter the landscape of their lives. Gordon MacDonald, in his book, Ordering Your Private World, told of an experience in his own life that illustrates this truth. He and his wife bought the old abandoned New Hampshire farm that they named “Peace Lodge.” Before they could build their country home, they had to remove the countryside of rocks and huge boulders. The spot where they envisioned their home was strewn with them. They know it would take a lot of hard work to clear it all out. Removing the boulders went quickly, but the little rocks, that was another thing. But they got at it and when they had removed the boulders and rocks, lo and behold, there were stones and pebbles everywhere. The rocks had hidden them. This was much harder, more tedious work. But they stick to it and there came a day when the soil was ready for planting grass.