It would be lovely to think that we’ve “made it” in our growing process, or that a time will come (preferably soon!) when we will be finished growing. Our enemy (as well as some well-meaning Christians) might promote that. But I take my cue from my 97-year-old lifelong-follower-of-Jesus grandmother who says there is still so much she can and wants to learn from God’s Word. What if we all said that regardless of our age?
Allowing God to speak to us and change us through His Word is one way – indeed a very significant way – God nurtures growth within us. (Notice I didn’t say how spending time in the Word is one way we nurture growth within ourselves. My emphasis on God’s initiative and role in this is intentional: We cannot grow by our own willpower nor can we figure out how to grow all on our own – thankfully!) In one of his articles in Discipleship Journal, author Donald S. Whitney provides additional “benchmarks” or “indicators” to help measure growth. Consider your responses to these questions he poses:
- Are you more thirsty for God than ever before?
- Are you more and more loving?
- Are you more sensitive to and aware of God than ever before?
- Are you governed more and more by God’s Word?
- Are you concerned more and more with the physical and spiritual needs of others?
- Are you more and more concerned with the Church and the Kingdom of God?
- Are the disciplines of the Christian life more and more important to you?
- Are you more and more aware of your sin?
- Are you more and more willing to forgive others?
- Are you thinking more and more of heaven and of being with the Lord Jesus?
Lest we begin believing that we do this in our own strength, I suggest at least one other question to consider:
——— Are you regularly engaging in Sabbath rest?
Rest is also important for growth, thinking about (a) how my children (and I!) need to rest, as well as (b) the winter seasons of a tree’s life. By resting, we are, in effect, confessing that God remains in control and that we are not relying on our own hard work and efforts, even in our growth. The invitation to Sabbath rest is one invitation (one of many, including the 10 above) to trust God above all.
I conclude these reflections about growth with a blessing from Scripture and a prayer…
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
— – 2 Peter 3:18
“One thing we ask of You, our God: Not to cease to work in our improvement [or, growth]. Let us tend towards You, no matter by what means, and be fruitful in good works, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
— – Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827
My message based on Psalm 1 entitled “Growing Together as Disciples”