Pursue Growth not Stagnation
Chuck Swindoll writes,
“I love babies…. I think it’s a delightful, enjoyable experience to watch babies grow up and to become little people…. But you and I know that there are some things about little babies that are not very attractive. We humor them because they’re babies.
“Here’s a list of things: They are dependent and demanding. They are unable to feed themselves. They are unable to stay out of messes. They love to be the center of attention. They are driven by impulses, such as hunger, pain, sleep. They’re irritated when they’re dirty, even though they made the mess, and you’ve gotta clean it up. They have no manners, no control. They have little attention span, no concern for others, no abilities or skills.
“Now these are natural things that are a part of babyhood. But when you see adults with those characteristics, something tragic has happened, something terribly unfunny. The Christian who is not interested in growing wants to be entertained. He wants a diet of milk when he cries for it. He wants his way. And he’s gonna get it, no matter how many he will have to disrupt to get it.
“You see, in order for a Christian to handle solid food, he has to have a growing, mature digestive system. He needs teeth. He needs to have an appetite that is cultivated over a period of time for deep things, for the solid things of God. Spiritual babies must grow up. Some of the most difficult people to live with in the church of Jesus Christ are those who have grown old in the Lord but haven’t grown up in Him.”
That’s the essence of the message Paul shares in the second half of Philippians 3: A Christian should grow in the faith not freeze in the faith. We should move forward with Christ rather than getting stuck in the same infantile level where we began.
In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul tells us, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul speaks of pressing on and of straining toward what is ahead. These phrases imply action on the part of the person who wants to grow spiritually. There is no implication here that we grow spiritually by sitting back and waiting for growth to happen to us.
If an apostle as great as Paul never reached a point where he could sit back and stop trying to grow spiritually, neither should we.
Christians need to recognize that spiritual growth does not happen in a vacuum or in a Lazy Boy chair. It happens in the crucible of daily life as we seek to live with Christ’s heart and values in everything that comes our way. It happens in the “spiritual training room” of the community around us while we practice Christ-like compassion, humbleness, and goodness in the situations we encounter. And it happens in the midst of Christian fellowship as we encourage one another in steps or growth while also picking each other up whenever we fall.
The aim of our life with Christ is growth not stagnation.