I was having a talk with my three-week-old son the other day.
I asked him, “How’s life going?” He smiled and said, “Well Dad, I’ve been thinking. I’m really enjoying my life now. I can sleep as long as I want. And as far as taking baths and things like that, I just lay back and enjoy them, and let someone else do the work.
“You know, it’s a pretty good life. So I’ve decided I’m not going to grow up. I’d have to be crazy to want to grow any bigger than this. After all, the bigger you get, the more responsibility you have.”
He had a point there, but I mentioned a few flaws in his perspective. “Son, I believe you’re a little shortsighted. I’ve lived thirty years now, and let me tell you, life is exciting. It’s not always easy, but it’s fun! You haven’t even started to taste the things life has to offer.
“Besides, it’s abnormal not to grow. If you don’t grow, your Mom and I will have to take you to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with you.
“Take my word for it. Grow up—it will be worth it.”
In the same way, as children of God aren’t we sometimes reluctant to take on the responsibility of growing spiritually? The Bible is full of God’s promises for our spiritual maturity and for our close relationship with him. But how do we respond to these promises?
The little voice inside us saying, “I could never experience that” is the same voice that spoke to Eve in the garden. Satan always casts doubt on what God has said He wants us to believe we can’t experience the good things God promises.
When describing how our lives should be, the Bible uses terms such as being built up (Acts 20:32), being established (Romans 16:25), maturity (Ephesians 4:13) and growing (Ephesians 4:15). These convey spiritual stability and depth. If this is what God has in mind for us, let’s not settle for immaturity.
Looking at 2 Peter 1 gives us some perspectives on the essentials of spiritual growth.
The first perspective comes from verses three and four.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Whose power do we have? God’s. Our lives are dependent on “his divine power,” and that power is available to supply everything we need for godly living.
To believe in Christ, therefore, means to not believe in anything else as a source of life. Are you drawing power from Christ, or are you trusting yourself?
Our attitude must always be “Lord, I need you.” Prayer is a good indicator, of our power source. Do we pray as a first resort or a last resort? Regular prayer and devotional times will build our dependence on the Lord.
A second perspective comes from verses five through seven, where Peter lists numerous character traits and tells us to “make every effort” to possess them. The perspective I find here is that the Christian life takes hard work. None of these traits comes easily to us: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. These are against our nature. Maturity does not come naturally.
God builds our character as we follow him closely day by day. This process isn’t always easy. Jesus said, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”(Matthew 7:14). But if you continue on with him, you’ll experience the fruit of your perseverance for the rest of your life.
The third perspective follows in 2 Peter 1:8–9.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
When we stop asking, “How would Christ respond in this situation?” we lose God’s perspective. The ways of the world start dictating how we live and we become blind to God’s values. Godly perspectives must be constantly renewed so that we possess godly characteristics “in increasing measure.”
The last perspective is from verses ten and eleven.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We should strive to be everything the Lord has in mind for us to be. This will keep us on track. It will mean absorbing God’s word, and maintaining quality Christian fellowship with those whom you know will sharpen and help you, and who will expose needs in your life and help you deal with them.
“Blessed are you who hunger now,” Jesus said, “for you will be satisfied” (Luke 6:21). Are you hungering to be all you can be for the Lord? Are you hungering to be mature in Christ, with deep-founded convictions? Do you long to have a foundation in the Lord that cannot be shaken?
Then commit yourself to growing.
You’ve been reading from the third issue of Discipleship Journal. Author Dennis Williams was a Navigator representative in Massachusetts.