Last week Elizabeth and Anna reached 15 months old. The pace of their growth has blown me away, but especially the last three months. It seems like every week, there is an important new development in their growth. It has been fascinating (and fun) for my wife and I to watch the girls rapidly mature.
More than once I have wondered; is it realistic to expect adults to grow and mature at the same pace as a 15-month-old child? My conclusion is always the same – probably not. However, I do believe it is possible for a Christian to rapidly grow in their walk with the Lord and their sanctification. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we encouraged to reach a certain level of maturity (whatever that might be) and then park yourself there until you die or Jesus returns.
My bible-reading plan took me to the first chapter of 2 Peter this morning, where I read these words: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are your and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
What the apostle Peter is saying is that as Christians, we must be growing in our faith. If we are serious about following Christ, then our faith will result in virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. This is a sanctifying work that God performs in our lives through the Holy Spirit. It is an act of grace by God that continually takes our faith to the next level.
Paul was so serious about sanctification that he rebuked the Corinthians for their lack of progress in the faith. “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is still jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
When we see a 6-month-old baby being nursed by his mother, we don’t think much of it. However, we would rightly be disturbed if that same baby grew into a teenager, but was still on the breast. We would think to ourselves, when is that child going to grow up? Sadly, many churches are populated by adult infants. They may have attended church for decades, but they never heeded Peter’s words to “supplement your faith.” They are still on milk when the solid food of the Word is available for the feasting.
Another lamentable reality is the fact that we often have a hard time encouraging fellow believers to pursue Christ with abandon. When we see a brother or sister in the Lord who is not growing or maturing, we have a hard time challenging them. Perhaps one reason for that is we know what the bible says about judging. Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) But we need to be careful that we don’t simply use that as an excuse not to challenge one another. God gave us brothers and sisters in the Lord that we might be responsible and accountable to one another. “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) If we truly love our Christian brother, we are going to do everything we can to point him in the right direction. The right direction always involves moving closer to Christ and growing in maturity.
I trust that this blog post has encouraged you to examine your own life and consider your own commitment to maturing in the Lord. I also hope that it has encouraged you to consider your own community of faith. We need one another and maybe the Lord might have you encourage a brother or sister in the Lord today. If they are not consistently in the Word, ask them why. If they don’t have a dynamic prayer life, encourage them in that direction. I am not suggesting you lay a guilt trip in them, but that they might better see the importance of a growing faith in Christ.