Spiritual growth is not like physical growth. We know that a child does not have to plan how to grow or work at growing. No parent is ever asked, “What is your secret for making your child need longer jeans and bigger shoes?”
While physical growth is a natural process, spiritual growth is not. The writer of Hebrews chided those who first read the letter, in chapter 5, by telling them they should have grown enough to be teachers, yet still needed to be taught again elemental principles. See Heb. 5:12-14.
So, how does spiritual growth occur? Certain elements need to be in place:
A Belief that one is capable of growing is one. If you do not think you can grow, you will put forth no effort to grow. The attitude seen in Paul will help. He wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13
A Desire to grow is essential. Capability is meaningless without willingness. Paul, encouraging Timothy to take heed to things within his ministry, wrote, “. . . give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (I Tim. 4:15).
A Recognition of the necessity of spiritual growth in order to please God is also needed. Peter closed his second letter with the command, “. . . but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18). It may be worthwhile to note that the verse before this one (17) mentions the danger of being led away by error.
A Plan to grow is needed. Goals need to be realistic, but also challenging. We don’t reach goals by standing still. A humble, but determined Paul wrote that he was “reaching forward” and “press(ed) toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
Spiritual growth is a lifetime effort. But, it will be worth it when it leads to an eternal reward.