...and let us all hasten to approach to perfect manhood, to the measure of the completed growth of the fullness of Jesus Christ, in Whom let us love one another, praise one another, correct one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, that with Him in one another we may reign and triumph.
- Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, 7th century
…but, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Christ...
- Ephesians 4.15
Every Christian has a mandate to grow (cf. 2 Pt. 3.18). Becoming a Christian is just the beginning of following Jesus. We must work out our salvation and grow in the Lord, so that He increases in us and our old, selfish self declines daily (Phil. 2.12; Jn. 3.30).
Our goal should be, day by day, to improve our walk with the Lord such that we become more like Jesus, think more with His mind, feel with His heart, embrace His priorities, and walk the path He walked (cf. Eph. 4.17-24; 1 Cor. 2.16; 1 Jn. 2.1-6).
Growing in Christ is not an option. You can’t merely take it or leave it. Either we grow in the Lord or we decline in Him, and revert to our old sinful ways and the ways of this secular and materialistic age. Growth in the Lord doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it, and we have to focus on the goal of such growth if we’re going to make real progress.
The goal of our growth is conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.18); the goal of each day’s growth, therefore, must be to make progress in love for God and neighbor (1 Tim. 1.5). The greatest obstacle to growing in the Lord is being content with the status quo.
Writing early in the 7th century, Columbanus chided the bishops in Gaul because, seeing the many problems that plagued them, he realized they had come to accept their situation as normal – pastors not caring for their flocks, believers indifferent to growing in the Lord, kings and other rulers cutting corners with the Law of God, bishops more concerned about appearances and benefices than the advance of the Kingdom and righteousness of Christ, little in the way of Gospel zeal or holiness anywhere to be found.
We won’t make progress in Christlikeness as long as our vision for our discipleship is to perpetuate the status quo indefinitely into the future. That won’t get us to be more like Jesus.
Our mandate to grow is also a great privilege, for the Lord is at work within those who know and love Him, and who are working at their salvation. He makes us willing and able to grow in our faith and to do the will of God (Phil. 2.13).
We grow as we feed daily on the Word of God, reading and praying the Scriptures into our souls, and living them faithfully in our daily walk with the Lord. The glory we encounter as we meet the Lord in His Word becomes the glory He refracts through us into all our everyday relationships, roles, and responsibilities (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Cor. 10.31) – our Personal Mission Field (2 Cor. 10.13-18).
As we strive to realize the end of growth, and work to make progress in realizing that goal, God the Spirit works with the Word of the Lord to take us beyond where we’ve ever been in our relationship to the Lord, and to make us more like Jesus. Growth is enhanced, Columbanus knew, as we pursue it together, loving, praising, correcting, encouraging, and praying for one another, holding one another accountable in love for specific evidences of Christian improvement.
Are you growing in the Lord Jesus – really, into the Lord Jesus? Do you experience the reality of your life being hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3.3)?
There is no standing still in the life of faith. Either we are growing in love, or we are declining.
Examine yourself: Growth or stagnancy and decline. Which of these best describes you (2 Cor. 13.5)?
Questions for Reflection
1. Why do people become lethargic and indifferent to growing in the Lord? How can we help one another out of such doldrums of faith?
2. In what areas of your life – and of your Personal Mission Field – are you most in need of growth?
Psalm 19.12-14 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Who, Lord, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
O let my thoughts, let all my words before Your glorious sight
Be pleasing to You, faithful Lord, acceptable and right!
Lord, help me to grow in Jesus, to become more like Him, and to be ready to tell others about Him – especially today as I…
Encourage one another
Here’s a Thanksgiving challenge for you, and a way you and a friend can encourage one another: Buy two copies of Be Thou My Vision(click here). Give one to a friend and use one yourself, for 28 days leading up to Christmas. Set goals for your growth in the Lord. Meet together weekly to discuss your readings and meditations. Take Columbanus’ and Paul’s words to heart: Grow in the Lord, and work together at it, speaking truth in love to one another as you press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.
Thanks for your prayers and financial support of our ministry.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 23.