Indeed it is, I thought. When spring comes, the new growth on the live oaks is a brighter shade I like to call “spring green.” Even new growth on the roses is a different shade—a deep red. New growth in plants is obvious.
The New Testament is far too full of agricultural comparisons for me to pass this one by. We are told ten times in the epistles to “grow” (auxano). I may not be a Greek scholar, but I can run a program or look in a good, old-fashioned concordance for the same Greek word and where and how it’s used. My question today is this: is it just as obvious when we have new growth? It ought to be. So what will people see when I “grow” in this manner?
2 Cor 9:10 tells me that the “fruits of my righteousness” will grow. That certainly ought to be an obvious indicator. If I am still struggling mightily, not just once in a while but constantly, to overcome the sins that had me captive before my conversion, then I am not growing as I ought to. The time factor may be different for each one of us, but things should be improving. I should become strong instead of fragile, someone who someday can help those who came from my identical circumstances. If I cannot reach that point, something is amiss.
Paul told the Colossians that their “knowledge” should be growing, 1:10. When the same old chestnuts are tossed out in class, things that have been proved wrong by simple Bible study for years, I wonder if anyone is growing in knowledge. Sitting on a pew will not do it. It takes work, and it takes time. It cannot be done in “14 minutes a day.” I despair sometimes of the church ever reaching the point that it is once again known for its Bible knowledge as I see my Bible classes dwindling in number, and only frequented by older women. When the new growth is only seen on the older vines, what does that say about our future?
2 Cor 10:15 says my faith should be growing. Do I show that with an ability to face trials in a more steady fashion than I used to? Or do my words and actions, decrying God and questioning His love, show that I am no farther along than I was ten years ago? Have I learned to accept His will and His ways, even when I do not understand them, or do I demand an explanation as if He were my child instead of the other way around?
2 Pet 3:18 says we are to be growing in grace. This one may be the most difficult one to assess, but think of this: what does God’s grace excuse and pardon in you? How patient was He when you were rebelling outright instead of just making ignorant and foolish mistakes? Now, how much grace do you grant to others who absentmindedly get in your way, who have their own problems on their minds and are hardly aware of your presence? Your neighbors, your colleagues, fellow shoppers, the driver in the car ahead of you—if you are not showing the grace of God to these in an obvious way you have not grown in grace as you should have. If you are looking for a reason to sigh loudly, to complain, to blow that horn, instead of searching diligently for a way to offer grace as it was offered to you, you need to think again about your progress in the gospel. I do too.
All of us, no matter how long we have been Christians, should be showing growth. In every area of our lives all of us should be sporting a different shade of green.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:15-16