By Richie Thetford
Before an individual can grow as a Christian he must first be free from sin. Peter writes: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:1-2). Later he says: “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4). Many Christians seem to be “spinning their wheels” when it comes to Christianity. They want to be an active Christian, yet they also want to continue to entangle themselves with worldly things. We cannot develop and grow into the Christian that God wants us to be if we are not willing to give it 100% effort! Only when we truly “desire” for the righteousness of God will we become a mature, seasoned, responsible, and respected Christian in his service. We must be determined to escape the world’s lusts and have a living faith toward Christ.
James writes: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas. 2:26). Our true character, development and growth as a Christian will be evident to all based upon our works. Our Christian growth will be seen by all without us having to ever say a word. Remember the words of Paul? “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:12-15). A Christian’s development, growth, and progress will be evident to all that see him.
Conditions of Growth
We can only grow in Christ when we place our trust and cares on him. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Jesus pleads, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). When we cast our cares and lean on Jesus, then we are on our way to developing as a Christian ought to. The worrier, the pessimist, the negative individual will not grow spiritually because he has not learned to let Christ be the center of his life. When we try to go through our daily tasks without including God, then we have miserably failed. Each and everyone of us when asked if we would like to grow up to be a strong, active, knowledgeable, fruitful Christian would probably answer yes! What we say we want to be and what we actually are, often times are two different things. You see, our growth is conditional. Conditioned that we strive to be what we say we want to be!
Steps to Christian Growth
So how does an individual grow to become the Christian that God would certainly be proud of? The answer is found in the Bible. Peter writes: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Pet. 1:5-10).
We learn that the individual who really wants to develop and grow into a servant of God, a dedicated Christian, has an active work to do. A Christian is:
- One who is virtuous, longs for knowledge (Eph. 3:19; Prov. 24:5)
- Exercises temperance (1 Cor. 9:25; Gal. 5:23)
- Is patient (1 Thess. 5:14; Jas. 5:8)
- Godly (1 Tim. 4:7-8)
- Shows brotherly kindness always (Gal. 6:10)
- Understands that all things must be done first of all because of love (1 Cor. 13:1-13).
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit informs us that, if we are actively pursuing these things, we will never stumble! The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and encouraged them to remain faithful and to develop and grow as Christians by saying: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8). May we all strive to develop and grow by putting on the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), and meditating on the good, positive aspects of Christianity. As a result, people will be edified by your growth and encouragement!
1822 Poindexter Ln., Sellersburg, Indiana 47172 RThetford@juno.com