|I find I must borrow yet another parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.
Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52 (NIV)
I love watching the natural world come to life each year.
Sometimes it seems like everything turns green overnight. But when I see a rose bush burst with red blooms or an apple tree heavy with fruit, I remember growth in nature takes time and requires ongoing nourishment: water, sun and nutrients from the soil.
Our spiritual growth works the same way. We require several key ingredients in order to mature in our faith.
This process is exemplified by the ways that Jesus grew: in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and others. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
While we don’t know the specific details about His growth in these three areas, it’s clear He didn’t just wait around for it to happen.
In order to grow in wisdom, Jesus likely studied His culture and faith on a regular basis, just like most other Jewish boys growing up. While children and teens often enjoy learning, as adults we need to sustain the same hunger for knowledge and intellectual curiosity. Too often, we’re satisfied with what we already know. We become complacent and stunt our own growth.
Wisdom is one of the fruits of growing in our faith. One of the easiest ways to stimulate growth toward wisdom is to learn from the wisdom of others. Being curious about people, observing them, respecting their different ways of doing things and their different perspectives — all of these help us stretch ourselves. Spending time reading and studying God’s Word is also crucial to cultivating wisdom.
We notice that Jesus also grew in stature, becoming taller and stronger as He passed from childhood into adolescence and adulthood. While physical growth may seem natural, it also requires practicing habits that keep us healthy. Our bodies require nutritious food, clean water, regular exercise, fresh air and plenty of sleep.
Once we reach adulthood, we may be tempted at times to ignore our body’s needs, especially for proper nutrition and adequate rest. We eat fast food on-the-go and push through our exhaustion. But over time, our bodies always remind us of our physical limitations. While they’re resilient and amazing, they’re also fragile and temporary. If I want to grow in all areas of my life, then I have to take care of my body.
Healthy physical growth requires taking control of my schedule. Not everything that’s doable is sustainable. We have to learn to discern between what’s truly important and what’s merely urgent. Physical health also requires obeying God’s command to take a sabbath, a designated day of sacred rest. While the sabbath doesn’t have to be the seventh day of the week, or even always on a Sunday, setting aside this time weekly allows me to recharge my soul and do things that refuel my tank.
Finally, Jesus grew in favor with God and man. This kind of growth implies that we’re designed to change and mature through our relationships. Growing “in favor with God” requires spending time with Him — through prayer, praise and worship, time in His Word and serving others.
To grow in favor with others, I must be intentional and invest in key relationships. It’s so easy for busyness to skate on the surface, even with people I love and want to enjoy. Healthy growth requires putting down roots and doing life together with others. If we’re not deliberate about nurturing close relationships, we can accidentally insulate ourselves and miss a crucial component of our personal growth.
If we’re not growing, then we’re resigning ourselves to stagnation and settling for less. But this is not God’s intention for His children! Jesus told us He came to bring us life to the full (John 10:10), overflowing with joy, peace, passion and purpose. No matter where we are in our spiritual journey, God always provides room for us to grow!
Dear Lord, I want to keep growing and becoming more like Jesus. Help me to pursue wisdom, healthy habits, and deeper relationships with You and others, so that I may blossom into the fullness of who You created me to be and produce good fruit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV)
1 Peter 2:2-3, “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.” (NIV)
RELATED RESOURCES: Want to grow in your faith? Join Pastor Chris Hodges in his latest book, What’s Next? The Journey to Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Purpose, and Make a Difference. Whether you feel stuck in place, uncertain about how to grow closer to God or eager to experience a deeper relationship with Him, this book offers practical guidelines from God’s Word for maturing in your faith.
CONNECT: Chris Hodges is senior pastor at Church of the Highlands and author of The Daniel Dilemma and What’s Next? You can experience more of his teaching at churchofthehighlands.com.
REFLECT AND RESPOND: What area of growth needs the most urgent attention in your life? What step can you take today to nourish this area of growth? Share your ideas in our comments section!
© 2019 by Chris Hodges. All rights reserved.
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