Growing: For the Better?
Growth is a progression. We typically think of growth in a positive sense. Plants, puppies, and children start out small and grow up. We like to see our savings account grow. God wants to see our faith grow and so should we. However, not all growth is for the better. We often refer to aging as “growing old”. Our senses dim and our strength fades. The world in which we presently reside is also aging. God designed it to be so. “And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”” (Heb 1:10-12 NKJV) God, however, is eternal, ageless. This stark contrast provides testimony to His eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20)
Isaiah predicted that Israel would ultimately grow apart from God. Jesus quoted Isaiah, as did the apostle Paul, when speaking of their present generation. “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15, Acts 28:27 NKJV) The opportunity to believe on Jesus was presented while Jesus taught and worked miracles. The opportunity was also extended as the gospel was taught. Paul was sent to teach to the Gentiles knowing that they would be far more willing to accept salvation than God’s own people. (Acts 28:27-28)
Love grows cold when we fail to love God with all our being. This falling away into error becomes a self-perpetuating spiral. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12 NKJV) It is important to deny our own lusts in favor of God’s will. We are deceived by lust. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:14-16 NKJV) One may always rationalize the choices we make. Every bad choice leads to another. “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV)
Make the choice to be righteous before you are calloused beyond caring. “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24 NKJV)
Even the righteous face difficulty. Doing good can also be “a hard row to hoe”. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV) Paul makes the same admonition to the Thessalonian brethren. (2Thessalonians 3:13) This premise is so important that Paul instructs Titus to make it a mainstay of his preaching. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Titus 3:8 NKJV)
Growth is a reality of this world. We will either be growing for the better or for the worse. Choose your course wisely. Maintain good works.