A Year of Choices…
By Barbara Dahlgren from Barbara’s Banter at www.barbdahlgren.com
As Peter neared the end of his ministry he left the churches with an exhortation to be steadfast and to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:17-18) These are his last written words to the churches, so they must be pretty important.
Growing in grace and knowledge means to become spiritually mature. God never intended us to remain babes in Christ forever. He expected us to grow up. (Hebrew 5:13-15)
Babies are cute when they are little. However, twenty or thirty or forty-year-old BIG babies are not. Fifty-year olds who have not learned how to share, play nicely with others, or control their emotions are definitely not fun to be around. Long time Christians who are still selfish, undiscerning, and belligerent are not fun to be around either. (Hebrew 5:13-15) Instead of mirroring how young Christians should live, some need a refresher course in the first principles of following Christ.
Maturity is reflected in our thoughts, words, actions, reactions, attitudes and so on. So Christians wanting spiritual maturity need to “walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” It can be summed up in James 1:22: “Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only.”
When James wrote this book it was to the Christians living outside of Palestine – to those scattered abroad. (James 1:1) Nero’s persecution had caused many believers to scatter throughout Asia Minor. Believers became lethargic. Their focus shifted from Jesus to succumbing to temptations. (James 1:13-15) They were not practicing what they had learned. Therefore, their spiritual growth had halted.
While it is true most of us aren’t scattered abroad, we do have lots of time wasting temptations of this world to draw us away from Christ. Just having a cell phone, TV and Internet access can make us spiritually lethargic. Spending time with Christ no longer seems to be a priority. Has our spiritual growth slowed or possibly halted altogether?
Spiritual growth means applying God’s truth in every area of our lives. It means continually seeking God and wanting to know more and more and more about him. It means never reaching the point where we think we know it all. It means never becoming complacent. It means fixing our eyes upon Jesus and wanting to become more and more like him – which is difficult to do if we aren’t spending time with him.
Consider this… If we aren’t growing in grace and knowledge we are remaining spiritually stagnant. God doesn’t want us to be stagnant; he wants us to grow. When Paul prayed for the church at Philippi he asked for their love to overflow more and more, and that they would continue to grow.” (Philippians 1:9) Our spiritual growth should never end.
When we aren’t growing in grace and knowledge, we are not becoming all that God wants us to be. Asking God to rekindle our desire to be more spiritually minded will not only bring us blessings, but it will bring blessings to those around us.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
- Think about how much we all love our children and how pleased we are when they actually learn a life lesson. It doesn’t make us love them anymore, but we are happy because they will have an easier life as they master certain self disciplines. Well, we are God’s children and He loves us unconditionally. But think of how happy He is each time we become a little more spiritually mature. It doesn’t make Him love us more, but He’s glad because our lives will be easier and definitely more blessed.
- Here are some keys to growing spiritually: prayer, Bible study, and meditation on God’s word. Try to incorporate those into your daily routine.
- Ask God to rekindle your desire to be more spiritually minded.
- When you encounter someone you think is a BIG baby (and you see them all the time), let it remind you to become more spiritually mature.
- We all have those days when we are out of sorts. When you know you are ill tempered or over reacting say this to yourself: GROW UP YOU BIG BABY! You’ll be surprised how quickly your attitude can change. It’s even more fun to say it someone else, but I think that defeats our purpose!