Barby and I are "empty nesters" for most of the year now, with one married son in seminary and the other living in a dorm at college. How fast they have grown! Like many families we had our growth charts on a door frame. We could hardly believe their growth spurts as God added to their stature. If only I would have bought stock in their favorite shoe and jean companies! However, looking back, we are glad we invested more in their maturity than we did in the stock market. Growth is a normal part of life.
But for how many Christians is spiritual growth a normal part of their experience?
In our spring issue we discussed new beginnings. We reveled in the fact that "in Christ" God views us as new creations. Spring reminds us of that. Yet on the heels of spring is summer. And summer is when we anticipate the maturity of spring growth. In that metaphor how much do we invest in the pursuit of spiritual maturity?
God's Spirit led a number of New Testament writers to address the need for growth. In Hebrews 5:11–14 the author described the expected spiritual progression in terms of time and truth. His readers had developed a "hearing" problem that inhibited their ability to understand the developmental truths of the faith.
Since the time of their conversion they should have become teachers of the faith. Instead they regressed to levels of spiritual infancy in their ability to connect God's Word to their lives. After chiding the readers for the insensitivity that had stifled their growth, the writer defined the maturation process. Maturity is defined in Hebrews 5:14 as the ability to discern right from wrong. And maturity is the result of the continual application of the Scriptures to everyday life.
Just as physical growth can be expected and measured over time, so spiritual maturity takes time. Let's not be content with the blooms of new growth; let's make sure we are cultivating the soil to ensure that fruit is ready for harvesting. And don't forget the growth charts on the door frame. They remind us of where we have been. Then we can determine that next year we won't be tracing over the same line of maturity we drew this year.
About the Contributors
Dr. Bailey assumed the role of DTS Chancellor after serving for 19 years as the Seminary’s fifth President, and continues his role as Sr. Professor in the Bible Exposition department. In addition to his years at Dallas Theological Seminary, he has pastored various churches in Arizona and Texas. He was a seminar instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for twenty years and is in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements all over the country and world. His overseas ministries have included Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary, and China. He is also a regular tour leader in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Rome. His board service includes Bible Study Fellowship, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and Word of Life.