Summary: It is normal for living things to grow.
It is normal for living things to grow.
• We plant seeds and expect plants to spring up and grow, producing fruit, nuts, vegetables, herbs, grains, lawns or flowers.
• We have children and, though sometimes it seems it happens too quickly, they grow and become independent of the old folks.
• Some individuals never grow past the infant stage, physically, mentally or spiritually.
• Some individuals
• think they can sow wild oats and grow good grain.
• are simply horticulturally disadvantaged. I pass along one lesson I learned by experience. Did you know you can plant birdseed and not grow one single bird? And I was hoping for a crop of canaries! And a pair of parakeets.
If you belong to Jesus it is because someone sowed the right seed. Peter reminds us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22-23 (NASB).
It is clear that God wants His children to mature, to develop and to grow. Paul wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind.” 1 Corinthians 14:20 (NLT2).
Peter wrote, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” 1 Peter 2:2 (NASB).
Jesus placed spiritual leaders in the Church as gifts to promote growth. Paul wrote about that, saying, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT2)
While we begin our new life as babes in Christ, we need not, should not, must not remain immature. The aim is to grow up.
I. GROW UP IN CHRISTLIKENESS:
A. Our aim is to “be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children.” And to grow in every way more and more like Christ.
B. You know how kids stand next to a wall to see how much they have grown since the last mark was made.
1. They are measuring their growth against their own former growth.
2. Sometimes they want to see how much they have grown in comparison to a sibling.
C. But God wants us to measure ourselves by Christ's stature even though we will never measure up.
D. To measure our growth in Christlikeness:
1. Measure our grace to others by His grace to us.
2. Measure our love for even enemies by His love for us.
3. Measure our treatment of others by His treatment of us.
4. Measure our forgiveness of others by His forgiveness of us.
5. Measure our godliness by His Godliness.
6. Measure our obedience by His obedience.
E. Often we are fooled about how much we have grown, by using the wrong standard of measurement and we unwittingly boast to ourselves and others about that growth. I am reminded of the time that, in a certain home, the growth chart had slipped from the playroom wall because the tape on its corners had become dry and brittle. Five-year-old Jordan hung it up again, meticulously working to get it straight. Then he stood his sister against the wall to measure her height. "Mommy! Mommy! Annie is forty inches tall!" he shouted as he burst into the kitchen. "I measured her." His mom replied, "That's impossible, sweetheart, she's only two years old. Let's go see." They walked back into the playroom, where the mother's suspicions were confirmed. Despite his efforts to hang the chart straight, Jordan had failed to get it at the proper height. It was several inches low. It gave a deceptive appearance of growth.