Growing Up

Physically, children and youth can hardly wait to “grow up.”  “When I grow up, I’ll do this or that,” they say.  Growing up is a positive thing and highly desired.  Spiritually, we ought to have the same desire – to grow up.  God is interested not only in our salvation (1 Timothy 2:4) but in our growth.

Consider what is written in Ephesians 4:11-15:  “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ (Ephesians 4:11-5).

Paul exhorts the Ephesians and us that we “no longer be children.”  There is great danger in not growing and developing spiritually.  There is instability and susceptibility to the deceptions of “every wind of doctrine.” The winds of false teaching can easily carry the spiritually immature this way and that way, all away from the truth and away from the Lord.

We must not remain children but instead “grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ.”  Growing up into Christ comes through “the faith” and “the knowledge of the Son of God.”  And Christ set, in the church, roles or functions for the edifying – building up – of the body of Christ.  The functions described in verse 11 – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers – are involved in our being built up in “the faith,” the doctrine of Christ.  Devotion to know and live that doctrine will help us grow toward the goal of a “perfect man” – one who is developed and mature as he should be.

The goal for which we are striving in growing spiritually is described by Paul as the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  The fullness of Christ – His life, His character, His thoughts, His words – is the measuring stick by which we ought to measure our growth.  The Christian grows by being “renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:10).  The image of Christ is not what I think or feel Christ might do, but what the Bible reveals about what Christ did.

Sometimes Christians have self-inflicted developmental disorders.  They remain children spiritually by choice, ignoring or neglecting opportunities to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.  Just as our attitude must not be how much can I sin and still escape the judgment of God, our attitude must not be how little can I know and grow and still be following the Lord.  Instead, we should crave growing up in Christ as a young person longs to be “grown-up.”  No matter our age or our time in the Lord, we need to keep growing up.  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

                        -Larry Jones