I would rather write than eat; pray than sleep; read His word than play, because the one about whom I write, and the one to whom I pray, is the one who gives me life, and the one for whom I live.
This has all been through a process of growing and bearing the fruit of the Lord’s work in me. Though I sometimes wonder in my thoughts and my actions, He always brings me back to the path and continues His guidance. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Spiritual growth is from the seed of new birth, rooting, the buds, flower, and fruit, all the work of the gracious and powerful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ~the vine dresser, the giver of life.
By the supernatural working of His Holy Spirit He births and brings to maturity those who are His children. (John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-3)
None of the life of faith is without some struggle through the wilderness in which we live, but it is where God chose and placed us to bring us to Himself.
This growth is described in Psalm 1:3. A man who turns from walking in the counsel of the ungodly, from standing in the path of sinners, and sitting in the seat of the scornful, to delighting in God’s Word, is like a tree that bears its fruit in its season. Its leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.
Why do some Christians not grow and bear fruit?
Let’s compare this to a child born to a family. Consider how this child matures to adulthood as we look at these obstacles.
- Words: As a child grows, baby talk is put aside and new words are used to describe how we live. The family leads the child to discover new things, new tastes, and new adventures. New words are explained so that they can understand how to relate to others, new surroundings, etc.
As a new Christian, we grow through the training of God’s Word. When we find words that we do not understand, we stop and take the time to find the meanings and how they apply to our new life in Christ. Words like “propitiation,” “justification“ and “sanctification” need to be understood, along with other words that are in the Christian’s vocabulary. With the study and discovery of these spiritual things, we experience the new tastes and the new adventures that enable us to grow.
- Feelings: When children exhibit their feelings and the family gives in to them, they learn to manipulate, and these keep them childish. They will never grow to positive and joyful adulthood if they never learn to get past their feelings.
Feelings are usually a normal reaction of the flesh to whatever is happening, either in our imaginations, our conversations, or our relationships to others.
As Christians, we do not live by feelings. They most often keep us stunted in our growth, keeping us dependent on how we feel about our circumstances and others. Instead, God’s Word brings us into the fellowship of His Spirit and grace to examine our feelings in comparison to how we should think, speak and act in our circumstances. We grow when feelings are put aside and we minister to and serve others.
- Influences: Everything around us is an influence either for our spiritual growth or against it. Responsible adults guard their children from the influences that would harm them. We see the results in our society of children who are exposed to violence, drugs, etc. They are planted in the middle of the darkness and chaos of this world and bear the fruit of it.
God’s children no longer enjoy such an environment. Their new hearts are fertile soil in which He plants His seed, the seed of His Son, Jesus Christ. By His Spirit He waters, and by His Word He continues to nurture His plants to full maturity, so that we are compatible for an eternity with Him.
The importance of relationships with other strong but humble and fruitful Christians cannot be understated. The fellowship of a local church that studies, applies and lives according to His Word, along with personal Bible study and prayer, are the means of watering and nurturing, so that there is no question that we are God’s children. He bears the fruit of His Word and Spirit in us ~ to His own glory, and our joy.
Dear Father, Thank you for the new heart, and the seed of the Life of your Son that you have planted in us. By your Holy Spirit, draw us to your Word, assure and nurture us, grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Bear the fruit of the Spirit of Life in Christ through us, so that the world sees true life in the middle of the darkness and decay. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
(To learn more how God works to grow us, check out our book The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY. Profits from all our books are designated for missions.)