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Born to Grow: The Upward Call of God

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

- Philippians 3:12 -

God searches for those who want to grow up spiritually. He seeks receptive hearts. Hearts where He can plant His Word and watch it take root. Hear how Good king Asa of Judah says: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9). God doesn't force Himself or His Word on anybody, but He wants us to have an unwavering desire to grow up spiritually. A desire so strong that nothing will stop us becoming who He wants us to be. Spiritual growth is not automatic like physical growth. It takes determination and hard work. This is what Paul means when he says: ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12). The good news is that if you hunger and thirst after righteousness, you will be filled (Matt. 5:6).


Spiritual hunger is the mark of a mature Christian. It means we’re not satisfied with where we’re at and we want more of God. As much of Him as we can get. When Paul says to work out our own salvation, he wants us to carry it to the goal and complete it. It’s like going into a gold mine and carrying out all the gold in there. Sad to say, not everybody embraces the work of spiritual growth. Sunday after Sunday, millions go to church merely in an effort to fulfill religious obligations. Their conscience is satisfied but their spirits are stunted. They’re going through the motions but they aren’t growing spiritually. Why? Because they’re dead inside, and dead things don’t grow. Some just respond differently to the Word of God than others. Some stay committed and go on to bigger and better things, and some don’t. How about you? Are you satisfied with where you’re at spiritually? Or is there a hunger inside of you crying out to be filled?

Becoming Christlike is what spiritual growth is all about. The goal of every believer should be to become ‘fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ’ (Eph. 4:13). The degree to which we’ll grow is inseparable from the effort we put into it. It takes strict discipline and true intention for spiritual growth to happen. No more are you to be a spiritual baby who doesn’t know what to do or what to believe. ‘God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love - like Christ in everything’ (Eph. 4:14, 15). But rest assured, God is with us every step of the way. As we put our lives in His loving hands, He will care for us and impart His infinite wisdom to us. We must put our faith in Him and do what He tells us to do. So Paul says: ‘We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love’ (Eph. 4:16).

Just as seeds are planted to grow, we were born to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. God desires us to grow up to become who He made us to be! Things that don’t grow die, which is why we must be forever believing that God will ‘work in us what is pleasing to Him’ (Heb. 13:21). We must use spiritual eyes to see that God desires to take us to a life of endless possibilities. Therefore, Paul tells Titus: ‘God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered Himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people He can be proud of, energetic in goodness’ (2:11-14).


Getting saved is not the end of our spiritual journey. It’s the beginning! It’s the start of a life of continuous growing into Christlikeness. It’s vital that we understand there’s no middle ground when it comes to spiritual growth. You’re either growing or you’re regressing and losing ground. You’re either climbing the mountain or you’re falling down it. We must stop excusing our failure to grow and face the harsh reality of where we’re at spiritually. Bottom line: we should always be wanting more of God in our life. Don’t settle for where we’re at now, but be like Paul who says: ‘I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:14).


Let it be known that the biggest enemy of spiritual growth is satisfaction with where we’re currently at. Again Paul says: ‘I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me’ (Phil. 3:12). He is admitting dissatisfaction with where he’s at and that he wants to keep growing and progressing. Today, right now, are you satisfied with your spiritual life? Have you reached the pinnacle of where you should be in your walk with the Lord? Or are there things you still need to learn and do? Are there areas in your life that need some spiritual growth? Paul prays that his dear Colossians would ‘be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God’ (1:9-10). The Message Bible says it this way: ‘We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making Him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard’. Amen to that!

God has plans for us. He is thinks of us always: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). The Hebrew for ‘thoughts’ is where the word ‘machine’ comes from. A machine is created for a purpose and to accomplish a task. Everything created has a purpose. We are prized creations of God and He sees what we were created to be. So know that God has a purpose in our final outcome. It’s between the time we learn that purpose and its fulfillment that life happens and spiritual growth takes place. Jesus tells the Father in John 17:4: “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” We ought to live in such a way that when we stand before our Father, we’ll be able to say the same. God has a final outcome for us but it requires Spirit-empowered growth on our parts. We’ll have to go deep into the things of God, deeper than we’ve ever gone before. It’s only then that He pulls out of us everything that He also placed inside us.


We’re in good company when it comes to spiritual growth. Luke says of Jesus: ‘And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him’ (2:40). If Christ had to grow in spirit, how much more do we have to grow? We are also told: ‘And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men’ (1:52). Jesus had to grow. He grew in spirit and in wisdom, showing that spiritual growth is an essential part of our Christian life. We must grow into the person God has called us to be. We need to grow in grace, in faith, in ability, and in wisdom. We often think that God’s grace is sufficient, so whatever will be, will be. We don’t realize that the purpose of His grace is to empower us to go where He desires us to, not to keep us where we now are. God anoints David to be king when he’s a small lad, but he doesn’t become king right away. No, he has to grow into being king, just as David must also kill lions and bears before he’s ready to kill Goliath.

Are you growing spiritually or have you become stagnant in your growth? Hebrews says: ‘For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe’ (5:12-13). Milk symbolizes dependence, like babies who can't feed themselves. Milk also pictures elementary Christian truths. Yes, it’s essential for new believers to learn such basic things, but there comes a time in the natural progression of spiritual growth where we start to seek out deeper truths in God’s Word. That means going deeper than reading a short devotional every day or a single verse in a promise box.


Jesus tells the disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). He wants to speak deep truths into their lives but they’re still stuck on milk even after walking with Jesus for three years. Milk is predigested food from the pastor to his flock. Yes, Peter commends this resource, saying: ‘as newborn babes desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby’ (1 Peter 2:2). But, as we grow, there comes a time when we must seek to study the Word for ourselves. Before long we’ll see new truths and fresh revelations for us to then share with the brethren. Ask yourself, are you eating meat or solely drinking milk? Are you in the Word enough to discern truth from error?


Hear the writer of Hebrews again: ‘But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil’ (5:14). The question is are our spiritual senses trained to tell truth from foolishness and heresy? There are many false teachings in the church, so the best way to identify them is to know the truth of the Word. A bank teller is not trained to know what a counterfeit bill feels like. They study what real bills feel like so they're able to spot the fake. This is why we need to be in the Word and why we need let the Word get into us!

G.K. Chesterton declared: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It's been found difficult and not tried.” Another time he said: “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” Some of us only see life’s trials. As in Christ's parable of the soils, some people respond quickly to the gospel but their excitement fades even quicker as they don’t want to pay the price spiritual growth and maturity demand. If our decision to follow Christ is only emotional it will fail the test of time. Many depart during hard times, but John reassures us that these never truly believed in the first place: ‘They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us’ (1 John 2:19).


God reigns supreme, but our spiritual success (or failure) is also based on choices we make each and every day. God’s Word works. It will produce results in those dedicated to the quest for spiritual growth. Weeds and thorns will always work to stunt that growth, often in the form of passing cares and pleasures. Yes, there are things in this life that we must give careful attention to. Some things require time and effort to resolve. But we ought not let good things turn to bad. Many people promise to commit to God once things settle down, but that typically never happens. Then, before they know it, life is over and they’ve nothing to show for it. Like the rich fool of the parable, we ought to realize that if we are too busy for God, we are simply too busy.

Spiritual transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Conversion happens instantly. Transformation takes a lifetime. Jesus commends those who hear and cling to the Word until they understand it. We need to chew and meditate on Scripture. We can speed-read ten chapters a day and still not know what it says. So slow down. Ponder what God is saying. Only then will we become ‘doers of the Word, and not just hearers’ (James 1:22). God expects us to act on what we hear, for this is how we grow. No longer will we then go to church just to receive. We’ll go to make a positive contribution into the lives of others. This is what spiritual growth is all about. It’s why we were born to grow!

All Scripture quotations are from The Message Bible and New International Version Bible


1 comment


woaaah wonderful u are really great MAN OF GOD u JUST llift up my spirite i love the ministration of the WORD

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