Last month we started a study focusing upon how we need to grow as Christians. This is not an optional extra; Christians need to be growing. Having considered the need for food last month, let us this month look at the issues of exercise and getting the right assistance.
Exercise In order to grow properly we not only need good food, we also need to exercise. The food of course must come first, but to have muscles which properly develop, exercise must take place. What are we to say on this matter then as we consider the spiritual realities involved?
One thing we need to do is to make sure we live out our faith. As James says, faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26b). To be living the true life of faith we need to be using the Word of God to impact our lives. We need to be walking in the light of what we have been taught. We need to work out what has been fed in! We must be making sure that our lives harmonise with our confession. Paul in 1 Timothy 6 is presenting various ways in which a believer can get taken away from following God (see 1 Tim. 6:9-10). He then goes on to say in verse 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
We need to realise that there are times when we need to fight so as to progress in the walk of faith. Paul urges Timothy to Fight the good fight of the faith (1 Tim. 6:12a). The Christian needs to step up and fight the battles of the Lord against sin and unrighteousness. Paul says to Timothy that he needs to be be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1). We need to be strong so as to fight. However, as is true of a boxer so it is true of a Christian, the fighting actually makes us strong; it builds up our muscles. We must note here though that we need to choose our battles. In the spiritual realm fighting the wrong battles weakens us. So Paul again warns Timothy to Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith (1 Tim.6:20b-21).
Exercise also needs to be happening in respect of our gifts. Gifts are given to us to be exercised. We are not to hide our gifts away, but to exercise them. Paul tells Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2. Tim. 1:6b). As we exercise our gifts, we grow. We learn from mistakes and we learn from others how we can best fulfil our ministry for the glory of God and the benefit of others. So as we grow, the church grows. Oh the beauty of these things!
Fellow Christian, is your gift lying dormant or are you exercising the ministry God has called you into? In the church there are too many sleepers. And we know that if someone sleeps all day and does not get out of bed then their muscles will atrophy and become weak. The church needs your ministry and so make sure you get up and work for the Lord. If you are struggling to know where and how you can get involved in the church then speak to the elders of the church and they will seek to help you.
Getting the Right Help Many fail to grow because they feel that they can grow on their own. One of the principles of animal life is that the young always need help to get established. Without that help they are unlikely to get growing and will be very weak. This is also seen in the realm of vegetation where protection and nurturing is often given to young plants. This is done through a stake being placed alongside them to keep them growing in the right direction and cages placed around them to protect them from that which would harm them.
This indicates that in order to grow we need others to help. There is a sense that this is always the case. If someone has concluded that they do not need the help of others then that one is in danger of stopping growing. But for those in the fellowship who are young in the faith, it is essential that they gain help from others. God has placed spiritual leaders in the church to help. Elders are there to protect and guide the church so that they make good progress in the right direction. This is particularly so for those who are young in the faith.
However it is not just true for the young, it is true for all of us. Let us hear God speak to us, in this matter through this proverbs: Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise (Prov. 19.20). We can be opening ourselves to so much blessing when we seek out others to help us.
This raises the question about having those around us who are willing to help us and nurture us. This is an ongoing need in every church and every Christian needs to face up to their responsibility in this. We read in Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Every Christian should be praying about and working towards the growth of others.
We must note that elders have a particular responsibility in this. As Paul says elders should be those who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you (1 Thess. 5:12b). If an elder is not assisting the believers in the church through his care and admonition then he is not an elder. We need elders, real elders among us.
So we conclude and say that, if you are a Christian you should be growing in the Lord and for the Lord. You will grow through consuming good food, engaging in exercise and drawing upon the assistance of others.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of February 2016)