Christian growth is a process

Faith & Reflection

Occasionally people tell me that they are concerned about their lack of maturity and growth in the Christian faith. Sometimes, there are valid reasons that explain their arrested development as Christians. More often however, I suspect that many are simply not willing to do what it takes to move forward spiritually.

Concurring, John Johnston wrote, “If you stop and ask yourself why you are not so devoted as the (early) Christians, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.”

Believing in Christ takes place at a point in time, but walking with Him and becoming more like Him is an ongoing process. And like most achievements it does not happen by accident but requires dedication and discipline. The order may be changed, but the basic building blocks for growing in Christ are three-fold and all three are communication based.

The first is prayer, which is us talking to God. The second is reading the Bible which is God talking to us. The third is us talking to others. This third communication may involve sharing our faith with those who have not yet believed in Christ, or it may entail encouraging and supporting those who already have.

Practicing the forgoing in a sincere, ongoing fashion results in Christian growth. 2 Corinthians 3:18 states that, “…we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord…”

The believer needs however, to be reminded that this process is neither rapid nor immediate. Psalm 37:23,24 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He (God) delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”

This passage makes it clear that the believer walks with the Lord; it is “steps”, not leaps and bounds. It is also apparent that the occasional setback should neither surprise nor defeat us. While God is delighted with positive steps toward maturity, our occasional setbacks are not terminal. His strong hand holds and sustains us during and through these times. This encourages believers to press on through times of blessings and burdens.

Pablo Casals (1876 – 1973) is considered to be the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century. On the occasion of his 95th birthday, a young reporter asked him, “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” He answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good… don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). We may be making progress!

— Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church

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