Growth is one of those experiences in life to which the more you watch, sometimes the less you see.
For example, as parents, it’s not unusual to establish some area of the home, a door post in the pantry or a stud in the garage, where periodically you mark the height of your children.
More commonly, we’re amazed at the growth, an inch or so, or even a few inches with growing boys.
But, we’ve been there all along, watching them daily – why are we so amazed?
We see this same phenomenon when visiting relatives or friends we’ve not seen for some time.
Unfortunately, instead of being shocked with vertical growth, we’re more likely to be shocked with the horizontal variety – a shock to which we’re well advised to keep mum.
“You ummm look, ummm, great…(OMGosh).”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that this same issue occurs in spiritual growth.
Interestingly, it can also be of the vertical or horizontal variety with time as the common denominator but not the determinate factor.
What I mean by that is significant growth can occur in a very short time yet little, conversely, no growth can occur over much longer time periods.
We are shocked by both. But why? What causes the growth?
As a believer, we recognize that God’s grace is sufficient for our justification – that is we are made right before God through His grace, once and for all – as richly detailed in Ephesians 2:8-10:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
But once saved, how then do we live?
How also do we grow?
What holds us back as believers?
Is it not the same thing that holds us back as non-believers? Is it not sin?
Galatians 5:16 states:“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Live by the Spirit? And what? – growth. Listen to Galatians 5:22:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
I am in awe of the growth of some believers around me.
Those whose trials are not just distant memories but current events and yet they’ve overcome and their lives are a reflection of the fruit of the spirit. And when new trials occur they respond with even more growth – to the degree that, although I shouldn’t be, I’m shocked. Vertical.
Conversely, I see others who have spent years in psychotherapy, only to conclude that it was their parent’s fault. Horizontal.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces reveal the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
So what do I know?
The same grace that requires nothing on our part to become saved, requires something of us to grow in our salvation – prayer, thankfulness, time in God’s word and practicing what we preach.
We are to “live by the spirit.”
If I can have anything, it would be that others after seeing my life would be shocked – wow, have you ever grown!!!