And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.Luke 2: 52
Every child grows. It is an offence not to grow. The Bible is careful to provide us with testimonies to the growth of several children. Concerning Isaac, scripture says “The child grew and was weaned…” (Gen. 21:8). On Ishmael, it is reported that “God was with the boy as he grew up.” (Gen. 21:20). For Isaac’s children, Jacob and Esau, the Bible says “The boys grew up and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.” (Gen. 25:27). Judges 13:24 records that “The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him.” The account on Samuel says “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” (1 Sam. 2:21) and “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.” (1Sam. 3:19).
In the New Testament we read concerning John the Baptist that “… the child grew and became strong in spirit…” (Lk. 1:80). Saul (Paul), soon after his conversion has this record to his name: “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.” Even Jesus has a record of His growth: Isaiah 53:2 records that “He grew up before him like a tender shoot…” while Luke 2:52 says “… Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Man.”
Those details, to the casual reader of the bible, may seem to be merely chronological but they are more than that. The Bible wouldn’t contain those records if there was nothing about the imperative of growth for our learning.
To grow is to become larger; to increase in size. It is to become better or improved in some way; to become more developed, mature, etc. To grow also means to become larger and change from being a child to being an adult as time passes; to pass from childhood to adulthood.
The accounts of those children we have highlighted from scripture show that after being born, they didn’t remain as children, they grew, they increased, they became better, they matured, and they passed from childhood to adulthood. While growth can be physical, mental and emotional, the main focus of our meditations is on spiritual growth.
Except one is born, there can be no talk of growth. Everyone, born of a woman, is dead spiritually, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23). The verdict on our lives is that we “were dead in … transgressions and sins.” (Eph. 2:1). Life begins at the point of accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 Jn.5:12). The first thing to do therefore, is to be born again. That is a very important point because every child grows into an adult version of who they genetically are. Take a lizard as an example; even though it has semblances to a crocodile, it can never grow into a crocodile. If it is well fed, the lizard will only grow to become a big lizard. Only a baby crocodile can grow to become a mature crocodile. Similarly, only a baby Christian can grow into a mature Christian who resembles Jesus. The Christian life is possible only because of what Jesus has done and our response to Him by faith: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Pet.1:3). Are you born again? Have you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? If you have, we can proceed to talk about your growth.
Observe from the examples mentioned above that every child was reported to have grown. Since you have been born again, have you grown? Like it was said earlier, it is an offence for you not to grow. When a parent births a child, the first reward they get from feeding that child, is to see them grow. With all the grace that God has lavished on your life in Christ Jesus, He is also expecting that you grow. The fig tree was cursed because it did not yield the results that were commensurate to the resources it had taken up.
Growing Up Into Christ
Every living thing has its own unique pattern of expected growth that it is evaluated by. A snake grows by becoming longer. A human being grows by becoming taller. So how is the growth of a Christian measured? A Christian grows by becoming progressively more like Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Rom. 8:29 that “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Before you became born again, God’s plan, his predestination all along, was that whenever you became born again, you would grow up to become like Jesus. It is not an afterthought, it is what you were predestined to be.
Whenever God looks at your life and evaluates your growth, He is checking to see how much like Jesus you are becoming. Jesus is the pattern Son. The primal purpose of all the work of the grace of God in your life, is to make you “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” The reason why he “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” is “to prepare God’s people for works of service” so that we “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” It is vital for you to note that that scripture says IN ALL THINGS. Your growth is supposed to be a gradual but progressive growth IN ALL THINGS into Christ. God’s work in your life is continuous “until Christ is formed in you.”
Many times that is where for several Christians there is a conflict. They become born again, avoid sin, are zealous for God, but are lacking in character. You encounter them and what you experience is obnoxious. They fail to progress in growing into Christ. For Jesus, the Bible says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14).
The Word became flesh; He moved from being only what was heard to become life; He became something that could be seen with our eyes, looked upon and handled with hands, something tangible; we have seen his glory. That same transformation is supposed to happen in your own life too. All your words, all your confessions and professions, every word you have received, is supposed to become you. There should be no conflict between who you loudly claim to be verbally, and who you are in person and character. When men see and touch you they should be able to see glory, and a fullness of grace and truth. When this begins to be the testimony about you, then Christ is being formed in you; you can say you are growing up into Him.
You can do a self-evaluation to check your level of growth. Just like you can stand before a rule to check your growth by measuring your height, you can also stand beside Christ and check your growth. Are you conforming to His likeness? Are you becoming like Him? Check how he obeyed the father: even unto death. Check his attitude to food: He ate whatever was set before Him. In fact He said His meat is to do the will of the father. Check how he prayed: he spent whole nights praying, sometime even until His sweat became like drops of blood. Check His relationship with the word of God: He studied it, said it is written and allowed it to find fulfilment in His own life. Check how he related with the poor and hungry: he had compassion on them and acted. Check how he related with His parents: he was obedient to them. Check how he related to tax collectors: he sent for money from a fish to pay His taxes. He didn’t avoid tax. Check how he related with His subordinates: He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet; He served them. Check how he related with those who hated Him: He prayed the father to forgive them that they knew not what they did. Check how his sleeping place was when he woke up: the kerchief that covered his head was “neatly folded by itself.” He didn’t leave the place He ‘slept’ to be scattered.
Christ is who you were predestined by God to be like. When God evaluates you, His yardstick for measuring your growth is Christ. Your mentor or discipler may be a good example, but you weren’t predestined to be like any of them. You were predestined to be like Christ. It is Christ who “suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21). Follow the examples of men only as they follow Christ. Since Jesus is the pattern Son, it behooves you to study His life and follow His example. It is those who follow Him who will never walk in darkness. It is those who follow Him who can grow up in all things into Him. Dearly beloved, examine yourself to see whether you are growing up into Christ in all things.
God bless you!