Growth: Lessons From LifeRelated Media
All of us realize that as we grow older our bodies tend to grow weaker. Thus the psalmist David complains that, “My soul is in anguish…My eyes grow weak with sorrow” (Ps. 6:3, 7).1 Elsewhere he cries out,
Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress,
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
My strength fails because of my affliction
and my bones grow weak. (Ps. 31:9-10).
Later a psalmist speaks of his heart growing weak (Ps. 61:2) or his spirit growing faint (Pss. 142: 3: cf. 143:4). The Lord Jesus warned that the time was coming when: “Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:10-12). Thus the future holds troublesome times ahead. Nevertheless, Paul points out that all things are overseen by God, especially in the ministry of the Gospel (1 Cor. 3:5-9). Human efforts may grow dim, but it is “God who makes things grow” (vv. 7-9).
Peter urges his readers, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (I Peter 2:1-2) Yes, the Lord is “good” and by following his example and commands we may steadily mature in our Christian lives. So it is that Peter concludes his writings by saying, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (II Peter 3:18). As we live a life surrendered to the Lord, many blessings take place. As Schuyler English said, “O, how we need to live close to the Lord in these days! We need, day and night, to meditate on His Word.”2 May it be said of us as it was to the church at Ephesus “You have persevered and endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary” (Rev. 2:3). This becomes all the more possible as we follow the Lord’s guidance, even as Paul told the Ephesians that by “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:15).
Rather than living a selfish life that follows purely human instincts, we need to realize that in Christ we will greatly desire to follow his divine example, for it is through Christ we grow (cf. Eph. 4:16). Indeed, with such a commitment we will have not only a concern for God’s will for us, but the needs of our family and for our fellow human beings.
A good scriptural example of this may be found in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).3 The setting of this parable is Jesus’ discussion with one who is considered an expert in Jewish law (vv. 25-26). Jesus’ answer to the man was that you must love God with all you have and are and then, “love your neighbor as yourself” (v.27). If we do so we will enjoy a full life. Therefore, “Do this and you will live” (vs.28). When the man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered him by means of the parable of the Good Samaritan (vs. 30-37). In this parable a Jewish man who was travelling was accosted by robbers and left half dead. A priest goes by and ignores the injured man as does also a Levite. A Samaritan, however, stops, attends to the man’s needs, and then takes him to an inn – at the Samaritan’s own expense. The Lord’s point in this is that believers should have concern and show mercy to others. As the law prescribed, he acted like a good neighbor.
Therefore, may we also be alert to help others as though they were our neighbor with this scriptural teaching in mind. May we genuinely have a concern and care for others, never harbor a grudge toward others, and pursue the goal of helping others. As Trites remarks, “Jesus insisted that the love we have for God must be practically reflected in the way we reach out to care for others, even when this involves a cost to ourselves…Our faith in God, to be authentic, must be one that expresses itself in loving concern and helpfulness to our fellows (cf. Gal 5:6)”.4
As the hymn writer of old states:
Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay
And guide them in the homeward way.5
© Copyright 2018.
1 All Scriptural references are from the NIV Bible.
2 E. Schuyler English, The Life and Letters of Saint Peter, (New York: Arno C. Gaebelein, Inc., 1941), 271.
3 For further instruction as to understanding Jesus’ parables, see Andreas J. Kostenberger and Richard D. Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011), 426-44.
4 Allison A. Trites, “The Gospel of Luke,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House, 2006), 12, 171.
5 Washington Gladden, “O Master Let Me Walk With Thee”.