Our home is a lot of fun these days. Living with toddlers is exciting, busy and, well, chaotic. Probably the biggest challenge in parenting is the never ending responsibility, but the rewards are never ending as well. And life as a parent goes by incredibly fast. I keep telling my wife, “We’re living in the good old days,” because soon enough we’re going to miss some of these times, crazy as they are.
Like most parents with children my kids’ age, I am almost daily amazed at how big they are getting. More than once I’ve looked at one of my children and said, “Wow, you’re bigger today!” Their growth is especially noticeable when I return from occasional work travels. As infants, my kids were helpless and needy. Now they are active and into everything! They are almost completely different people now. Sometimes my wife and I feel almost a bit sad about how big they have grown, and I think sometimes they do too. The day before her birthday, one of them said, “But I don’t want to get bigger!”
What she didn’t realize is that alternative would be tragic. What if our children didn’t grow up at all? What if, instead of growing and learning, they just stopped developing properly? What if we had to carry them around and change diapers and wipe food off of their faces for the rest of their lives?
Don’t get me wrong, if God’s plan was for me to serve my children in this way, I would gladly do so. I wouldn’t love them any less if my children had developmental issues. But it would be heartbreaking at the same time, because that’s not what God designed and called “very good”. God created my children to develop physically, mentally and spiritually. And by His grace, they are doing just that!
There are certainly parallels to be found in our spiritual lives. The Bible commands us to pursue maturity in Christ. In Hebrews 6:1, we are exhorted “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” Paul also commands “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Cor. 14:20). In Colossians we find this statement: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Col. 1:28) And again in Hebrews we are told that “Solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:14). It is clear that God wants us to continually grow and mature as Christians. This does not come as a surprise to most of us. The problem, I think is that sometimes we don’t know whether we are growing or not, and we don’t know how to intentionally pursue Christian growth.
Among my circles of Christianity, we talk a lot about progressive sanctification, but we don’t often talk about how we are to mature, and how we can spot any “developmental delays”. We cover the “thou shalt” a lot better than the “how to” sometimes. So I’d like to start a series explore some practical questions about spiritual growth. My goal is to help us (me too!) think intentionally about spiritual growth. Please don’t just register an automatic “Yeah, of course I’m growing spiritually.” Search your heart and life for evidence of how you are growing. I would invite you to think deeply about what areas you need to grow in. As you do so, I trust you will come to an understanding of why and how to develop an intentional plan to grow in those areas.
In order to do that we must first begin by asking ourselves a question that Jesus raised in Matthew 22. The first question, and the most important overarching focus of our intentional spiritual growth needs to be “Do I love God with all my heart?” That’s where we’ll pick up next time.