Every year we have a handful of plants that grow to about a foot’s height, then stop. Their leaves curl and they never set a bloom. They remain green and don’t die outright, but they don’t grow and they don’t produce fruit. We call them the “frizzled plants” because of the curled leaves and the stunted growth. If we are not careful, our spiritual growth can be stunted in the same way.
Listening and considering new ideas is imperative to spiritual growth, to improving our attitudes and characters. Keith has actually come across a couple of people who have told him, “Even if you could show me in the Bible where I’m wrong, I wouldn’t change. I’m comfortable where I am.” A comfort zone is prime territory for stunted growth. What do you do but sit there and watch their leaves curl?
Others have a pride issue. They can’t possibly be wrong about anything. Hear the sarcasm in Job’s voice as he deals with his so-called friends: “No doubt you are the [only wise] people, and wisdom will die with you,” 12:2. When people will not listen to anyone else, they will only grow as far as their own knowledge will reach, and then stop.
Parents can stifle growth when they view differing opinions as disrespect. Even parents who don’t mean to do so are used as an excuse not to listen. “But my daddy said…” Don’t you think Daddy had enough personal integrity to change his mind if someone showed him he was in error?
Indifference can stunt your growth. In fact, it is a wonder some people managed to germinate a seed at all, much less grow enough to look at least a little like a Christian. Their apathy prevents them from getting any farther.
Wealth can strangle you so that the seed never receives the nourishment it needs. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Mark 4:19.
Immaturity, which Paul repeatedly calls carnality in 1 Corinthians, can stunt your growth. When you are concerned about the wrong things and your perspective is distorted, when you can’t see beyond the instant gratification of things, status and the opinion of others, you will never comprehend the true necessities of spiritual life. You certainly won’t grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.
We need to look at ourselves and the things that matter most to us. Examine your spiritual growth in the past year or two. Can you see a difference, or are you still sitting in exactly the same place with curled leaves and no fruit on your limbs? Are you stretching those limbs upward, or do they droop to the earth, where the only things that matter to you happen to be?
What is getting in the way of your growth? Don’t be a frizzled tomato plant.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, Psa 92:12-14.