Christian Spiritual Growth
Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.”
What does it really mean for us to “grow up” spiritually and how the heck do we go about doing that? What is involved with Christian spiritual growth and transformation? Without over spiritualizing, or over simplifying spiritual growth, here are three observations from Paul’s encouragement to the Christians in Ephesus.
Most of us have heard or have been exposed to the command in Ephesians to “speak the truth love” but we have failed to read, understand and integrate the rest of the verse that says, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.”
As we speak truth to one another…
I. We will… Spiritual Growth and Transformation involves other believers (Eph 4:11-16)
- Discipleship (Apprentices): The Word of God as our tutor training us in righteousness and truth. Growth can and does happen in isolation but it is not the way God designed it. God has called us to invest in others and to allow others to invest in us. Spiritual growth is a symbiotic relationship that happens with others by God’s grace and Spirit as we read and apply His word to our lives.
- Community (Accountability and friendships): Participating in the life and vision of the church. By “church” I do not mean a building with 4 walls but more importantly God’s people pursing God’s purposes together in relationships. It means that we invest in intentional relationships with the purpose of growing in Christ together. We allow others to “speak the truth in love” – without this there is truly no spiritual growth. If I do not allow others to speak into my life I have in essence said, “No” to God speaking into my life.
II. In all things… Spiritual Growth involves both Spiritual and Emotional growth (v15).
To say that Christian growth is only spiritual is to deny the very essence of who God created us to be and as well who Jesus was – Jesus was fully human and fully God. We too, created in His image are spiritual, emotional and physical beings.
- Spiritual: This involves the development of spiritual disciplines which include, but are not limited to: prayer and Bible study, fasting, solitude, rest and others. The idea is that we become less dependent upon self and others and more and more dependent upon Jesus.
- Emotional: Emotional growth is one of the most neglected areas of a Christians life. Some Christians view emotional growth as secular or worldly. Thus, we have “spiritually mature” Christians walking around as emotional infants/children. We are called to grow up in “all things.” We cannot truly grow spiritually if we remain emotional infants. Likewise we cannot just grow emotionally without the spiritual growth – they are interdependent.
III. Grow up… True spiritual growth involves Jesus.
To “Grow up in Christ” means that we realize growth involves and revolves around the person and deity of JESUS! If our growth is merely “spiritual” and not Christ likeness then it is fundamentally not Christian and is entirely something else.
If we are simply growing and evolving into more sophisticated and enlightened human beings without God, then its humanism or idolatry. However, if our growth in and through Jesus causes us to be more fully who we were created to be (intelligent, compassionate etc.) then that is to God’s glory and credit and not of our own doing.
Lastly, I would encourage you (from my personal experience) to involve Jesus in every aspect of growth. God not only has to be involved, he wants to be involved in our lives. He will use people, circumstances, and whatever else He needs to cause growth in our lives for our benefit and to His glory.
How have you experienced spiritual growth as a Christian? Has it involved people? Has it been spiritual and emotional? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, let’s chat!