“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
— John 15:5
When you were a child, did you look forward to growing up? Perhaps your mother or father marked your physical growth on a wall, charting your progress toward adulthood.
Just as we anticipated physical growth when we were children, we need to pursue spiritual growth daily. Repeatedly the Scriptures speak of spiritual growth. A psalmist declares that when we meditate on God’s Word, we become “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season” (Psalm 1:3). Jesus explains how we must be like branches grafted into the vine, growing to produce fruit. We are told to grow into the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ. God has most definitely designed us to grow spiritually.
How can we tell if we’re growing according to God’s plan? One of the signs will be the fruit of graciousness, becoming like the all-gracious God, having an unselfish love and concern for others’ needs. Another sign is joy. As we grow in grace, we’ll rejoice in everything life hands us, good or bad. Conversely, if we grumble and complain about everything, continually sad and dejected and depressed, we’re clearly not growing in grace. Those negative attitudes reflect our spiritual immaturity. Consider the great admonition of the Bible: “Rejoice in all things.” We can fulfill that command only when we’ve grown in grace.
How can we pursue spiritual growth? Think of Olympic weight lifters, who need just the right food and exercise to build strength. In a similar way, we as Christians grow by taking in the spiritual food of God’s Word, prayer, and our consistent devotional lives, then by exercising ourselves in the faithful performance of Christian duties such as works of mercy and evangelism. As we engage in these spiritual disciplines, we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Where are you along the “wall” of spiritual growth? I encourage you to chart your progress today. Then set your sights on a higher mark, and commit to at least one spiritual discipline that can get you there.
“All growth that is not towards God is growing to decay.”