“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby...” (1 Peter 2:2)
It would be wonderful if we all grew up as we grew older. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, looking back over my life, I can clearly see that more than anything else, my problems were the resultnot of my age but of my immaturity.
I am sure many can identify with that; and consequently, many of us grew up as victims rather than victors. Nevertheless, the Lord can reverse that process and set us on a course toward maturity in Him.
Maturity is a thread woven throughout the Bible. It is the central theme of the epistle of Hebrews. Accordingly, Hebrews 6:1 begins with the following phrase: “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” (New International Version). The writer was speaking of progressing toward spiritual maturity.
Along the same line, James encouraged Believers to build on our perfect salvation in Christ, so that we could progress into maturity. He contended that there could be no progression toward spiritual maturity without a spiritual birthwe must be born again. He wrote, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (James 1:18).
Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb, came to take away our sin. Therefore, when we believe with our heart and confess with the mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, that is the beginning of our Christian journey. (Ref.: Romans 10:9-10). It does not matter whether we are 40-years old or 4-years old, the momentthe second we receive Christ, we become newborn spiritual babes.
Although this new birth is instantaneous, growth is not; it is a process. This process is comparable to that of a natural baby. For instance, a natural baby cannot live or grow without food and care; and neither can a spiritual babe. However, the spiritual baby’s sustenance comes through prayer, praise, fellowship with God, and obedience to His Word.
At birth, a natural baby’s vision is not clear. That is why a newborn shows no enthusiasm when held in front of a mirror. As the baby’s vision adjusts, he or she becomes familiar with their surroundings. Then, when held up to a mirror, the outburst of excitement lets us know that the baby recognizes its own face.
Likewise, when we were first born again, we could not see clearly. We were only familiar with and accustomed to the world’s way of thinking, talking, and behaving. But as we began to look into the divine mirror of God’s Word, our vision adjusts and we begin to see clearly. (Ref.: James 1:22-25).
At first glance, we may not like what we see in the mirror of God’s Word. Nevertheless, for our vision to improve, we must not deny what we see about ourselves, but be honest with ourselves about what we see.
Most of us see only the mistakes we have made over the course of our lives. Although the mirror of God’s Word often reveals this unattractiveness, the good news is that He is the God of another chance. We can start anew in Him.
Therefore, the more we gaze into the mirror of His Word, the more we will realize our need for Him. The more we realize our need for Him, the more we can allow Him to change us. Then “…we Christians…can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18, The Living Bible).
In the mirror of God’s Word, we will find blessingsnot only in studying but also in doing and obeying the Word. However, unless we are willing to obey, the Lord is not obligated to teach us. Moreover, if we do not allow Him to teach us, we will not grow. If we don’t grow, we will not mature; and if we do not mature, God cannot effectively use us.
Growth implies expansion, progression, and development. It is a process. It is like a muscle, developed over time through constant training or use. In the same way, Christian maturity is something for which we must constantly strive, train for, or work at.
The Bible’s earnestness regarding our maturity is reflected in Paul’s words to the Galatians, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). The word “formed” carries the idea of an artist working to kneed and shape material into an image or likeness. To go toward perfection or maturity is a similar process. It is a progressive work: it does not happen through osmosis.
Bishop Holcomb has taught us that preaching is not just about hearing but more so about obeying the Word we hear. Therefore, I challenge everyone reading this article to focus on one area in which you need to grow up; then begin working on it.
Beloved, it is going to take patience to grow up. So “… let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing” (James 1:4). In other words, let patience (that force of consistency that causes you to remain steadfast and always the same) go to work in you. Do not give up, child of God! There is travail in birth; and there is travail in maturity.