Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (New International Version)
Spiritual growth is of vital importance.
God made humanity in the divine image and likeness – which means we were created as spiritual persons. We must therefore recognize that the area of our greatest value, potential, fruitfulness, and life fulfillment will be in the realm of the spiritual.
If we deny our spirituality, whether in thought or in practice, we will inevitably become confused and set ourselves up for failure. That’s because our basic nature is one of being spiritual persons. Our spiritual growth is important; and God has made the provision for us to experience this growth.
For spiritual growth to occur, we will need to do away with everything that prevents that growth from happening. All evil and wickedness, hypocrisy and envy, slander and gossip, must be jettisoned as inconsistent with our spiritual selves and our new birth as believers in Jesus.
Just as babies need milk for growth, Christians need to ingest the apostolic teaching given to them as indispensable to their growth toward salvation. In the words of the psalmist, Christians have found the Lord Jesus as good to the taste.
Taste and see how good the Lord is!
The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy! (Psalm 34:8, CEB)
Spiritual growth is both a necessity and a command; it’s neither optional nor something to work on if we have some discretionary time. God has made every provision for our spiritual growth; the Lord has not left us alone.
You, therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18, NRSV)
Grace refers to all the privileges of being a redeemed person. Knowledge denotes all the benefits of God’s revelation to us. This is our sustenance in order to spiritually grow as Christians.
And we are to crave it with the same kind of intensity that a newly born baby will seek for food. As babies, my girls were barracudas when it came to feeding time. They went at breast-feeding with so much gusto that my poor wife was often left in downright pain afterwards.
That same kind of desire for feeding must be present with us as believers in Christ’s church. When we obey the command of the Apostle Peter and make it a priority in our life, we will grow.
One of the problems with spiritual growth is that there is a disease-like force operating in our lives – a destructive tendency toward lethargy and passivity toward spiritual things.
It’s ironic that people who confess Jesus as Lord can be so attentive about trivial things, and yet, at the same time, be so unconcerned about giving focus to feeding on the Word of God. We cannot go on living like this and expect to be successful in the Christian life.
To grow spiritually requires speaking the truth in love, instead of using our words for tearing-down others. Loving exhortation and encouragement causes us to grow up into the people Christ wants us to be. (Ephesians 4:15)
We are to have an aggressive application of the truth, in both speech and action, that impacts our daily faith walk with Jesus. The way we grow spiritually, both personally and corporately, is through practicing the truth of Holy Scripture. Our priorities, goals, and values need to reflect a solid commitment to fulfill scriptural truth in daily life. Have we:
- Come before God and confessed the things we have done and left undone when it comes to God’s revealed will?
- Humbled ourselves before one another in the church and asked for prayer?
- Read the Bible on the subject of spiritual growth and followed its teachings so we can know the joy and love God has for us?
- Been lethargic and passive about our spiritual selves?
The Holy Spirit has been gifted to us for our spiritual growth so that we might be brought into close fellowship with the Lord Jesus.
By obeying the Scripture in this area of practicing biblical truth, we will begin to experience spiritual growth and the joy of the Lord.
However, if we allow ourselves to remain lethargic and apathetic concerning spirituality, we will never become our true selves. We must choose to make a biblical response both to God and to one another when it comes to our personal and collective growth as spiritual persons.
This is not a matter of personal willpower because spiritual growth is much more than our own effort. We must face our spiritual condition and seek both God’s help and the help of God’s community of the redeemed, the church.
Only then will spiritual growth become a reality.
Good and blessed God, we keep asking that we may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we may live worthy lives, fully pleasing to you, as we bear fruit in every good work and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
May you make us strong with all the strength that comes from your glorious power, so that we may have endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to you who has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light, through Christ our Savior, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.