Most little kids I know are anxious to grow. They are regularly comparing themselves to others, standing against the ruler on the wall, or asking their parents if they are any taller. They are eager to demonstrate that all those glasses of milk and nights of eating their vegetables are doing their job as they slowly inch closer to their full height.
Yet if you ask a kid how to grow, there is little instructive advice that they could give you. They might refer to the aforementioned milk and veggies but other than that they don’t know how to make themselves any taller, their eagerness to do so not withstanding. They may want to notch up inches on their wall ruler as much as their compatriots, but regardless of how they focus their energies or the frequency with which they measure their height, they simply don’t know what they can do in order to enable their growth.
Thankfully, the same is not true in our Christian life. Much like children have a tenacious focus on growth, so should those who follow after Jesus. Except our growth should not be calculated by a ruler but by the proximity between the life we live and the life that God calls us to, the life of Christ. We should not be concerned with how tall we are, but the degree to which our life reflects our Savior – not just in our external actions, but in our heart and motivations as well. Our whole life should increasingly be more like His; that is what growth in the Christian life is.
But how do we grow? How do we engage in this process of sanctification (becoming more holy, i.e. more like Christ)? A 1980 sermon by John Piper may prove helpful in our understanding. In the course of explaining what a rational argument is (as opposed to a heated discussion or insatiable haggling), he provides the following example of one:
1) God sanctifies His people by the Truth. (John 17:17)
2) God’s Word is Truth. (John 17:17)
3) Therefore, “we should give ourselves heartily to the Word for our sanctification.”
It’s a simple presentation of an issue that so many Christians ponder and debate. Growth in the Christian life requires the application of God’s Word to our lives. As we commit to follow its commands and to live a life in keeping with its teaching, we will grow in our walk with God.
There may not be much that a child can do to inch their way towards their desired height. As Christians though let us rejoice in the fact that because God’s Word is ” living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12), it will always prove faithful in revealing areas in our life where growth is needed. And let us remain grateful that God is at work in us “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13) enabling us to grow in Him.