Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of our Lord
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be
the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18But grow in
the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of
eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
From infant to youth to adult: we
mature as surely as time advances. Physically, our growth is inevitable;
spiritually, this is not necessarily true. Peter exhorts us to grow in the
grace and knowledge of our Lord; yet, do we? Perhaps we may mature physically
and psychologically but remain a spiritual infant. To paraphrase Psalm 65:11,
to crown the year with our bounty of spiritual maturity will surely please our
Similarly, the church must also
mature. Her maturity depends on the many contributions from her constituent
members. These members serve the Lord and the church by performing many tasks,
all according to their gifts. They are, in effect, holy workers – workers who
voluntarily give up their time, money and energy to advance the church work.
Implied within this definition is that anyone can be a holy worker, not just
those who have been ordained or elected.
So how does one recognize their
The Lord does not necessarily
command forcefully; He may whisper instead, subtle but present. An assignment
from the board, or encouragement from others may be
the signal that the Lord is calling.
exhorts us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice to serve and
worship the Lord. Yet for many, the opportunity to serve is declined, perhaps
out of a desire not to show off. This is misplaces modesty. After all, what
would your reply be if Jesus Himself asked you to serve?
The church’s road to maturity may
not necessarily be smooth. Again, her development closely mirrors the spiritual
maturity of her members: where they are on the road to maturity, so too will be
the church. There will be times when insistence is required and times when compromise
is the best solution. The ability to distinguish between these two is a clear
milestone in the development of the church. For the truth and way to salvation,
there is no compromise. However, with more willingness to come to a compromise,
typically through a decision agreed upon by a majority of members, is the
Recent history suggests that we
have a tendency to emphasize the construction / purchase of the church building
and the increase in church membership. Both of these are admirable goals.
However, they cannot be pursued at the expense of the quality of the members’
spirituality. If the spiritual maturation of the membership lags behind the
growth in population, the church will face difficulties sustaining her loyalty
to the Lord, particularly in present times.
A healthy spiritual church is
built upon a foundation of spiritually mature members. Each member is
responsible and accountable for the spiritual maturity of the church. Hence,
for the church to glorify the name of our Lord, her members must depart from
basic teachings and strive towards perfection (Heb 6:1,2).
When we are young, milk and honey suits us best; but the mature Christian can
maintain the faith in whatever circumstances, even those that taste bitter.
This Christian is a disciple of Christ, capable of overcoming adversity to
become a living sacrifice for Christ. But let us be clear: a believer is not
necessarily a disciple of Christ. Christ has commanded us to “make disciples of
all nations.” (Mt 28:19). Not only must we preach His gospel and bring others
to believe in Him, we must encourage these people to follow and imitate Christ;
in short, to develop believers into disciples. The church is strengthened only
when the number of disciples increases.
So, how is discipleship developed?
Ensuring our value system reflects our
By faith Moses, when he was grown
up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share
ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of
sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the
treasures of Egypt,
for he was looking ahead to reward.
Moses, son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
a prince of Egypt,
was in fact the son of a Hebrew slave. The inner struggle between acknowledging
his heritage and continuing in royalty was enormous. Should he return to his
roots? To slavery, bondage and struggle? To sacrifice his position, his
comforts and his adoptive family? As we all know, Moses discarded his royal
garments and assumed the yoke of the Hebrew people. Moses made a very difficult
decision. Yet, it was clearly the right one. How much would we be willing to
Paul regarded the Lord as above
all, and the rest as rubbish. (Phil 3:8) He unequivocally staked out the
Christian value system: our values must reflect and respect the sacrifice of
Jesus, upon whom our eternal hope lies. Paul also hinted at how we are to
develop this value system. In 2 Cor 4:16-18, he
suggests that we fix our eyes on what is unseen, that which is eternal. As a
result, while our bodies may decay, our spirit is renewed. When confronted with
choices, our decisions must be examined under the light of our spiritual
values. Unblemished decisions that reflect Christ’s glory should be pursued,
To the spiritually mature Moses,
his values dictated he chose the less traveled, tougher path. He put his faith
in God, and with his eyes fixed on the horizon, set off towards the unseen
destination, sure that this decision would bring glory to God.
Service to the Lord
And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of
the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:21
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord
under Eli. 1 Samuel 3:1
When Samuel was young, he began to
minister to the Lord. As he grew, the Lord remained with him and the prophet’s
words did not fall to the ground (1 Sam 3:19). Samuel matured spiritually
because he served the Lord. Through service, he developed an understanding of
God’s will and this in turn, was reflected in his words and deeds.
Our religious lives include prayer,
bible study, attending service and fellowship with others. Yet, it is
incomplete without service. To serve is to grow. The various skills with which
the Lord had endowed us are wasted if they are not put into service.
Like maturation, service is a process;
it develops gradually. There may be setbacks along the way, but with
determination and fixing our eyes on the finish, we will succeed. Take Mark,
for example. In Acts 12:12,25, it is clear that Mark
received good religious education from his mother and wanted to serve the Lord.
He helped the apostles whenever possible, and in verse 12, provided lodging for
Peter when the apostle escaped from prison. Yet in Acts 13:13, Mark did not accompany the apostles. Why? Paul decided
in chapter 15:36 that Mark was not to accompany them because he was still
immature and not ready to suffer for the Lord. Through the training and
co-working of Barnabas, he devoted himself to service to the Lord and, by this,
grew up spiritually. By the end of Paul’s life, we see that Mark has indeed
matured: Paul specifically asked Timothy to bring Mark along, for he is useful
in Paul’s ministry. (2 Tim 4:11).
The importance of wisdom
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and
in diving and human favour. Luke 2:52
What is wisdom? And from whence
does it come?
The familiar Proverbs 9:10 states that to become wise, one must first fear God.
A reverence towards God is a firm foundation, able to withstand the temptations
that threaten us.
As we grow in stature, do we
become wise? Not necessarily!
Our education may increase our
knowledge of the world, but its importance pales when compared to spiritual
wisdom. By the time he was 40 years old, Moses had
substantial formal education and was powerful in speech. Yet, his spirituality
had not matured at the same rate. When an Egyptian mistreated a Hebrew slave,
Moses killed him. Only after another 40 years, were his powerful emotions
tampered by spiritual wisdom and he was able to lead his people out of Goshen. In contrast, as
the boy Jesus grew in stature, his wisdom grew also. This wisdom was not of the
Indeed, measured against any
standards of formal education and status, Jesus was lowly. His wisdom was
derived from His determination to follow the will of the Lord (Jn 7:17).
Heavy emphasis on formal education
may obscure the wisdom of God. Indeed, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for
neglecting divine wisdom in favour of worldly
knowledge (1 Cor 1:20,21:2:6-8).
This is not to say that worldly knowledge is irrelevant. On the contrary, worldly
education is important and should contribute to our pursuit of the word of God.
Balancing the pursuit of such learning with the pursuit of divine wisdom is
necessary to attain spiritual maturity.
Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in
every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined
and knits together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is
working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15,16)