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11 January, 2013

Don't Worry About How You Mature……..Really?

There is a saying out there so unscriptural, that it gives me great concerns. If I have to sit one more time in front of a pastor who tells his congregation “ don’t worry about how you grow” or “everybody grow at their own pace” or when you worry whether you are growing or not it is because Satan is playing games with you, I am going to pull my hair out!

One leader of the Church I used to go to went as far as telling me that whatever needs to be done right before we die, Christ will put us right before presenting us to God.  For instance, if you die and you are not holy yet, it does not matter what post you occupied in the Church, you simply won’t see God. As I get to know God for myself, I found out there is only a partial truth to this interpretation. I found out the Holy Spirit wants us to worry about how we grow. The Holy Spirit taught me that my spiritual growth is not concerned with my pace but should be the Holy Spirit pace and it is my duty to keep up with Him. Guess what? The Holy Spirit’s interpretation is actually biblical. Our major problem is making God’s word fit our interpretation of Salvation.

As I explained in my book “Apprehended & Apprehending” God does not show us how far the spiritual road we have to travel. As you mature spiritually, you find out, you see as much road your spiritual knowledge of God and your maturity will allow you to see. You walk with Him so much and grow so much that it feels you have reached the end of the road and bang, all of the sudden, in the blink of an eye you realize there is so much more distance to travel. It is as if there was a wall there, now the wall disappears. I come to understand that God is putting us back to the way things used to be with Adam and Eve before the lost their spiritual sight. This work starts right here on earth. The wall that I used to see, I come to understand is the spiritual veil that was imposed on us after the fall.

God had to get me to the end of the wall at least on four occasions until I learned to give up and stop putting my own understanding of spiritual growth forth. Once I stopped doing that, amazingly I came to see the spiritual growth is like travelling on a highway where you can see as far as your eyes would take you. But, if I have let’s say 100 miles to travel, and I can only see a few miles ahead of me, this does not mean it is the end of my journey. I have come to understand as well, how much road is left is not up to me or anyone else to know it. 

Prior to the Holy Spirit teaching me all these things in the wilderness, I was so confident that what my spiritual blindness and ignorance allowed me to see was just that, because I did not know I was spiritually blind. I was ignorant of the fact that the amount of work that has to be done is nothing that our feeble human mind could grasp. Some of you might say well, Paul already compared this life to a race, so I should have known that. I venture to say that even though we repeat those words, the majority of the Church does not know what they truly mean from God’s point of view, unless He explains things to you.

I will go one step further, if indeed we already knew on a spiritual basis what Paul meant when he compared the Christian life to a race, then we would all stampede forward and stop using excuses. The Church would flourish because spiritual growth would be at an all time high. Christians would be truly walking as the light of the world. The truth is, when we don't see with our spiritual eyes, in our human mind, we see a somewhat short distance as if it was not a big deal. We see a journey of ten thousand steps when in reality, through growing with Him, after we travel ten million steps, we find, there is still an infinite amount of steps left to take. It’s not for nothing those who are going forward with Him spiritually see their lives as being apprehended by Him and we keep apprehending as we charge forward with Him.

Part of God helping us to preserve in this walk is to always examine ourselves to see if we are still walking in His will for us. You will find out the more you grow, the more God makes sure you understand that there is so much to be done that you can never measure up. This is to tell you that I am aware of the ugliness that is still in my heart, I am aware of my desperate need for Him and I am aware that I cannot do anything without Him. However, it seems as you walk with Him, you have some sort of regulator within that propels you to check to make sure you are where you need to be. This is the Holy Spirit’s work. I find that if I spend a few weeks without being aware that I am growing at all, I have a need to talk to the Holy Spirit about it.

Understand that I am not talking about outward growth like learning the Bible. It is a given if I you are in the Word all the time, you are going to learn it. However, I need to examine myself to make sure even if I do not feel I am growing spiritually, I am still in His will for me. I am still walking in accordance with His schedule for my life. My routine is that I examine myself to see how long ago I have experienced some sort of spiritual growth. If I find out it has been a while, then I pray to the Holy Spirit to guide me in a better understanding. Sometimes He takes a week or two before letting me know that I am fine and He always gives me a glimpse of things. It’s almost like an unspoken arrangement. Sometimes, I find out that I have sin in my heart that I was not aware of, for various reasons. And sometimes He shows me a full blown picture of how much I have grown.

The moral of the story, it is our job to keep up with Him, not the other way around. Our lack of spiritual growth could be because we are not walking in His will. We are not walking in the Spirit, not abiding and perhaps our hearts are plagued with sin that we have gotten comfortable with. The inward spiritual maturity takes us from the baby stage as we slowly become someone like the apostle Paul, or John, or maybe someone like Spurgeon, or Moody or John Edwards, or Oswald Chambers etc. We come to resemble these people in their knowledge of Him and His Word. I insist on saying inward spiritual maturity because there is a practice out there, as soon as we have some activities under our belts, we have been Christians for a few years and are able to understand few Bible verses whether through our own interpretation or through a little growth, we tend to put ourselves above others and all of the sudden we get ourselves an “apostle” title after our names where we are nowhere near one of them, inwardly.

Ironically, the more you grow spiritually, the more you know God, the more you understand spiritual things, the more you are not interested in those titles. Perhaps because I come from a family that is so vain, so shallow, so caught up in money and status where everything is about displaying the outside beauty, God, through His grace is watching me so closely. In fact, He made clear to me that I have to do His work in the shadows where the glory will be all His. I conquered with Him because I know I am a corrupted being with vanity in my heart. Even though I know Him so well it is easy for vanity to take over and before we know it, we steal His glory as we put the focus on us. 

2 Peter 3:17-18 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.