Our church mission is: To grow a strong, united church family, to help the hurting and hopeless, to teach people about Jesus and help them grow in their faith and to impact our community for Christ by reaching out in love. However, there can’t be healthy church growth unless first there is personal spiritual growth among our people.
Growth can be difficult to measure in ourselves given the closer we get to God the more we become aware of our own shortcomings. Oftentimes we want to see growth in ourselves quickly and become frustrated when our lives don’t develop at a pace we believe is acceptable.
On measuring growth Andy Stanley said, “Spiritual maturity is measured in terms of persevering faith, not perfect behavior.”
God wants us to grow … and yet growth is not always obvious. The Chinese bamboo tree does absolutely nothing—or so it seems—for the first four years. Then suddenly, sometime during the fifth year, it shoots up ninety feet in sixty days. Would you say that bamboo tree grew in six weeks, or five years? Our spiritual lives are similar to the Chinese bamboo tree. Sometimes we try and try and try again … and nothing seems to happen. But if you do the right things long enough, you’ll receive the rewards of your efforts.
2 Corinthians 9:10 says “ Now God who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supplies and multiplies the seed you have sown and increases the fruits of your righteousness,
The Bible teaches us that the moment we become a Christian and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we become sanctified which means to be made holy in God’s eyes. Let’s examine our scripture this morning and learn what Paul has to say about living a holy life and growing in our faith.
Scripture Philippians 3:10-16
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
3 Things to Know About Growth
- The Process of Christian Growth Is Relational
Paul described his pursuit of Christian growth in relational terms. He wanted to know Jesus and “the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings” (v. 10). Further, Paul wanted to share the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection (vv. 10–11)—“conformed to His death . . . I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (vv. 10–11). Paul wanted to know Jesus more intimately. He longed to experience the spiritual realities summarized in and through the life of Jesus.
Spiritual growth centers on knowing Jesus. It’s focused on knowing a person, not completing a program. Your sanctification—being made more holy—is about becoming more and more like Jesus, not comparing yourself favorably against others.
- The Challenge of Christian Growth Is Demanding
Paul didn’t feel he had developed spiritual supremacy. He had not “already attained” nor been “already perfected” (v. 12). He didn’t consider himself a fully mature Christian. Paul expressed the quest to continue growing in strong terms. He used phrases like “press on,” “lay hold of” (v. 12) “reaching forward” (v. 13), and “press toward” (v. 14) to describe the intensity of the process. He continually reached “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14).
Spiritual growth is demanding. It requires focused effort. It’s never fully accomplished. There is always something new to learn or do. When you think you “have arrived,” it’s a sure sign you haven’t. Your sanctification means you will change, which is hard. You must change your attitudes and actions to reflect Jesus in your life. While that won’t be easy, it’s always worthwhile.
- The Barriers to Christian Growth Are Deceiving
Paul warned the Philippians about pressuring each other to grow. He reminded them God would reveal how they needed to change. Paul also reminded them to live up to what they already knew they should be doing. The danger in both situations is creating legalistic pressure to grow for the wrong reasons and toward the wrong goals.
Spiritual growth will be stunted when it’s motivated by exceeding others. Rather than focus on what others should be doing, focus on your growth. As part of this, work on what you already know you should be doing. Learning new things is important, but it’s also vital to do what you have already learned. Don’t be deceived—your growth is your responsibility.
5 Hindrances to Growth
1 Lack of Prayer (Jeremiah 3:33/ 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
2. Lack of Personal Bible Study (2 Timothy 2:15)
One spring a family was driving from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, Florida. As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When they stopped for breakfast, they ordered orange juice with their eggs. “I’m sorry,” the waitress said. “I can’t bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken.” At first the family was dumbfounded. They were surrounded by millions of oranges, and knew they had oranges in the kitchen—orange slices garnished the plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. They were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it. Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, they would have no nourishment for their souls. The problem is not a lack of spiritual food—but that many Christians haven’t grown enough to know how to get it for themselves.
3. Lack of Fellowship with other Believers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
4. Listening to False Doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16)
5. Living a sinful/ rebellious Life
Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
God grows people at His pace and in His ways. God wants you to grow. Focus on becoming more like Jesus. Work hard at it! Don’t try to keep up with the expectations of others. Do what you know you should be doing and trust God for the results.
Stay the Course! Just keep on doing the next right thing and you’ll receive the rewards for your efforts.