Summary: These two verses provide a blueprint for each of us as we seek to move toward spiritual maturity, and become like Christ. Since we are disciples of Christ, and if we are ever to become like Christ, we will need to "grow up" in these basic areas.
Luke 2:40, 52
As we move away from the Christmas season, we move into the uncomfortable encounters with Christ. Both Christmas and the Resurrection Season are comfortable seasons. They are seasons that emphasize grace, God’s love, and His sacrifice.
But as we move into the interlude, we have to make the same adjustment that the writers of the gospel made. For between the incarnation and the passion, during Jesus’ ministry years, the emphasis is on discipleship.
At the end of chapter 2, Luke gives us a glimpse at the first 30 years of Jesus’ life. In two verses that bookend the story of Jesus at the Temple as a 12 year-old boy, Luke describes Jesus’ growing up. The terms translated "grew", in each instance, means more than to grow bigger. Luke has in mind a change for the better by advancing and making progress.
These two verses provide a blueprint for each of us as we seek to move toward spiritual maturity, and become like Christ. Since we are disciples of Christ, and if we are ever to become like Christ, we will need to "grow up" in these basic areas.
1. Disciple growth demands Bible Application.
There is a dual emphasis inherent in the Hebraic roots of wisdom terms:
1) Wisdom is achieved by discovering God’s will in God’s Word (Ps. 119:24, 98, 100, 104);
2) Wisdom emphasizes that action rather than thought is the point (Matt. 7:24-27).
Bible hand exercise: Hear, read, study, memorize, meditate, apply.
"God’s Word gives clear instruction in both precepts and principles. Examples of a precept would be no sexual immorality, do not repay evil for evil, pray without ceasing, in all things give thanks. Principles are judgment calls. The Bible doesn’t mention cards, makeup, movies, or tobacco. The more you know about God’s Word, the better judgment calls or decisions you can make. Another example of a precept is a sign that says "35 MPH". There’s no give or take in that. "Drive carefully," however, is a principle since it can vary with road or traffic conditions.
2. Disciple growth demands Praying Authentically.
Francois Fenelon, a seventeenth century Roman Catholic said this about prayer:
Tell God all that is on your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, you instability. Tell Him how self-love make you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.
If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of their heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.
3. Disciple growth demands Relational Accountability.
The term that occurs here is grace. Jesus was an agent of grace.
Why did Jesus take Peter, James and John into the Garden of Gethsemane? It wasn’t just because they needed to be there. He needed them there.
Everyone needs to be part of a small group.
Bruce Larson, in There’s A Lot More To Health Than Not Being Sick, writes,
Behavioral sciences in recent years have expounded the simple truth that "behavior that is observed changes." People who are accountable by their own choice to a group of friends, to a therapy group, to a psychiatrist or a pastoral counselor, to a study group or a prayer group, are people who are serious about changing their behavior, and they are finding that change is possible.
Studies done in factories have proven that both quality and quantity of work increase when the employees know they are being observed. If only God know what I’m doing, since I know He won’t tell, I tend to make all kinds of excuses for myself. But if I must report to another or a group of others, I begin to monitor my behavior. If someone is keeping an eye on me, my behavior improves.