The Growth Process and Choices
Even though an expectation of God for us is to become mature, produce fruit, and therefore be viewed as perfect in His eyes, I would also like to point out that a growing process does take place in the believer’s life before maturity occurs. I want to exhort you to never use the fact that a growing process exists to give yourself an excuse to fail or stumble but rather allow this knowledge to encourage you and press you onward as you continue to walk through the various trials in life. I will reemphasize my point from earlier: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galations 5:16). So our daily and constant focus should always be walking in the Spirit, and that will be the path to how the growth process gets accelerated and completed in the man and woman of God in this life. Remember, you are not made to be in a state of never-ending growth, but rather you are expected to go on to perfection, produce fruit for the kingdom of God, and be a mature follower of Christ. Nevertheless, here are several verses that indicate there is a growing period for our lives:
- “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest…’” Matthew 13:29–30a.
- “…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him who is the head—Christ” Ephesians 4:15.
- “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” 1 Timothy 4:15.
- “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, all hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” 1 Peter 2:1–2.
- “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18.
Just as it was in the beginning of creation, it is still the same today. God always gives us a choice about which tree to eat from: the Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was the biggest mistake Solomon continually made throughout his lifetime. The Bible said that Solomon was not perfect before the Lord, and it was because he sought the knowledge (i.e., the experience, the thrill, the enjoyment) of good and evil (see 1 Kings 11:4 and 1 Kings 15:3 and the book of Ecclesiastes). In other words, instead of continuing to eat only from the Tree of Life (as he was supposed to), he continually pursued carnal knowledge and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the eyes of God, this is not a full-grown, mature man of God but rather an ignorant, foolish, and inexperienced child of the faith, who is persuaded by any and every wind of doctrine and who will pursue and believe many lies and deceptions of the devil. It is amazing, and fearful, how one of the wisest men to ever walk the earth can lack so much wisdom in such an important aspect of life. Remember that even with all the wisdom God has made available to you, nothing will ever compare to being led by the Spirit. This is why the Holy Spirit, as a Helper, was such a powerful and important gift from God for us, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).
On a sidenote, the word for evil in Hebrew is ra and is the same word that we see in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The full definition of the word includes not only immorality, unrighteousness, uncleanness, and evil but also misery, sadness, heartbreak, illness, death, and suffering. When you consider the meaning of this word, it becomes clear why God did not want humanity to eat from this particular tree in the Garden of Eden: because He wanted to spare us from any form of evil altogether! It was His love for humanity when He told Adam not to eat from the tree, because God’s only desire for Adam was goodness, joy, peace, life, and love, which can only be obtained by eating from the Tree of Life. Just as a loving earthly parent wants to spare their children from any form of suffering, sadness, heartbreak, and immorality, God, in His infinite love, only desired the same thing for us, His children, from the very beginning. He will always give us a choice to follow Him or not, but He hopes we will pursue life and godliness rather than evil and pain.