By definition, growth requires TIME. It is progress and development as time passes. Several important lessons follow:
A. Don’t Expect to Reach Your Goal Overnight.
Children do not become full-grown instantaneously.
At birth they are so small you can hold them in a little basket. Soon they are outgrowing new clothes every month. Eventually they can wear their parents’ clothes or even larger. But it takes time.
Sometimes children become impatient. “I can’t wait till I’m 18 (or 21).” We say, “Take your time. It will come soon enough.” Time passes and, sure enough, what they were waiting for has come and gone, and they’re looking back wondering how the time passed so fast!
Likewise spiritually, do not expect maturity overnight.
James 1:4 – To become perfect and mature (entire), lacking nothing, we must have patience.
Some new-born Christians want to know everything and do everything right away. They may not be willing to take the TIME to STUDY and DEVELOP ability. Yet they want to be just like the mature members – and want other members to treat them with the same respect that they do mature members – before they have taken time to grow.
Sometimes older members are impatient with new members. We don’t understand why new converts have trouble with some basic concepts. Then sometimes these new members explain, “I never was really taught what the BIBLE said before.” They have no background in the Scriptures, and it takes TIME to grow.
Remember that people who may be mature today did not get that way overnight. It took years of study and practice. And new converts will not become mature overnight. It will take time.
New members should not get discouraged and give up. Older members should not be impatient or overly demanding. Remember how our children took time to grow, and how we had to show patience with their immature ways as they grew. But growth will come as long as people are trying and we give them time.
B. Don’t Become Discouraged by Mistakes and Rebukes.
Children make many mistakes and must often be told they are wrong.
How often does a child fall while learning to walk? They fall again and again, gathering bumps and bruises. They spill their milk, don’t hold their spoon properly, fall off their bikes, and come to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run in scoring position and strike out.
Parents are continually correcting, instructing, and punishing, till we almost feel sorry for the kids. Growing up is tough!
If kids are going to become mature, they have to keep going in spite of mistakes and rebukes. And someday they will look back on their own childish mistakes and just smile.
Likewise, new converts will make many mistakes and must often be told they are wrong.
Some of the greatest Bible characters committed terrible errors and had to be rebuked.
* Moses made excuses when God called him to lead Israel out of bondage.
* David committed adultery with Bathsheeba and was rebuked by Nathan.
* Peter denied Jesus three times.
* Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion.
* Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection.
* All the apostles forsook Jesus when He was arrested and crucified.
Matthew 16:21-23 – Shortly after he had confessed Jesus and been highly praised (v15-18), Peter contradicted Jesus and was severely rebuked.
Yet all of these are remembered as some of God’s greatest servants.
Great servants are not people who live without ever sinning, but people who learn from their mistakes and go on to serve God faithfully.
Judas betrayed Jesus and is remembered as a traitor. Peter denied Jesus three times and is remembered as a great apostle. What is the difference? Judas, after betraying Jesus, hung himself. Peter, after denying Jesus, repented and went to work preaching the gospel.
Proverbs 29:1 – A person is destroyed, not simply because he errs, but because he becomes stubborn when he is rebuked and will not repent. What is needed is repentance and patience to learn to do right.
The story is told of a little boy who fell out of bed. Asked what happened, he said, “I guess I just stayed too close to the gettin’-in place.” That is exactly why many people fall away from God after their conversion – they stay too close to the “gettin’-in” place and do not grow to maturity.
It is no shame to be a baby, if you were born a few months ago. But if a person has been a child of God for several years and has not grown, he has a problem.
Everyone needs to grow as a Christian, and everyone can grow, if he/she simply applies the Bible principles of growth.