It was true by the end of the first century when Christianity was fairly new, and it’s true today. When we fail to grow in our faith, we retain an immature and childish view of things that actually works against us. What happens when our faith doesn’t grow up? We are left powerless to face the storms of life. But also we fail to function as God intended, thus leaving the church without its essential core of strength: a people empowered and indwelled by God changing the world one soul at a time.
The writer to the Hebrews thought it was shameful that they had not progressed in their faith, choosing instead to remain in an immature state.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. ~Hebrews 5:12
Growing in faith is not a naturally occurring process. It takes an intentional move on our part to make the choices necessary to grow. In Ephesians 4:11-16 I see some signals that we are growing in faith; some perspectives to adopt in order to facilitate the growth that awaits us.
Grow in Your Gifts (Ephesians 4:11-12). God has given you wonderful gifts that have a meaningful place in the Body of Christ. When we fail to use these gifts, they sit collecting dust and our faith is stunted. (See also Romans 12:4-8) There are tools available for determining what our spiritual gifts may be. I think it is possible to know your spiritual gifts by answering two questions: What are you good at? What do you enjoy? Chances are your gift is waiting for you there.
Grow in Christ-Likeness (Ephesians 4:13). As disciples, learners, students, apprentices – this is our goal. To become more and more like our Master. This is our life long pursuit.
Grow in Conviction (Ephesians 4:14). When we fail to grow up we remain as infants, tossed around by all of the exciting and glittery new teachings that come across the Christian bookstore shelves. Or we may be immersed under the waves of doubt and confusion by listening to the seemingly unanswerable ‘new atheists’. We hear a thousand messages a day from all kinds of sources. Know what you believe. Establish the basics. Be a person of conviction (see also 2 Peter 3:17-18). We are not to be contentious people, using our convictions as weapons judging and criticizing others, that is counter productive. Instead…
Grow in love (Ephesians 4:15-16). When we talk with those who disagree with our convictions, we will ‘speak the truth in love’. We will seek to build up the other person. We should seek to have the kind of attitude that “grows and builds itself up in love”. That is true in the local congregation. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about how they were setting a great example in loving one another and growing in faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4). This relates also to the mission of the church. Paul hoped that as the Corinthians grew in faith, their mission would would be expanded. He wrote…
Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you… ~2 Corinthians 10:15-16
This growing in love is also demonstrated, ‘As each part does it’s work’ (16b). Everybody has a role to fill. When we allow ourselves to remain immature, the whole body suffers. because of it.
Take a look at this passage and what it teaches us about growing in our faith. In what area do you need to work a little harder to become the mature believer that God can use in a fuller way?
Thanks for reading, John.
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