Becoming born again is the most important decision you will make in life; it is the first step toward achieving spiritual maturity. However, there is more to being a genuine Christian than this. Just as a baby is born in the physical realm and must go through a process of growth and development, the same is true in the spiritual realm every time someone becomes born again. Believers must grow up in the things of God so they can be effective in His Kingdom.
God cares about our spiritual growth and He wants us to mature so we can edify, or build up, the Body of Christ. He has given us the fivefold ministry gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) to help assist Christians in this process, helping us grow and mature so we can do what He has called us to do:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-15).
You may be wondering what it means to do the work of the ministry. One aspect of this charge from God is assisting in the spiritual growth of others. This means we have a responsibility to help one another grow in the things of God. By sharing information and telling the truth in love, we can help people mature into the image of Christ until everyone comes into the unity of faith and into the knowledge of the Son of God.
While helping others grow spiritually is the focus, it is important to first remember that growth is a process that happens gradually over time. Both spiritually and physically, there are three stages of development to consider: infancy, childhood, and adulthood. Right now I want to focus on infancy and childhood.
Once a person is born again, he or she is a baby from a spiritual standpoint. Just like a natural baby, they are innocent. God has wiped out their past and no longer remembers it; he or she is a new creature.
Both physically and spiritually, babies must be nourished in order for growth to take place. In the natural, a baby requires its nourishment from milk. So likewise, a baby Christian must be nourished with the milk of God’s Word. First Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation” (The Amplified Bible).
Both natural and spiritual babies need attention and will not mature unless someone cares for them. A pastor is the caregiver who provides the proper spiritual nourishment through regular feedings (church services and Bible studies).
In the childhood stage, something interesting often happens; the child may begin to think he or she knows everything! For this reason, it is important that a Believer maintains a teachable spirit. God is limited in what He can teach you if you are a spiritual “know-it-all.” When you are unteachable, it actually demonstrates that you are still a child and need to grow up.
Just because you have been saved for twenty years does not necessarily mean you are mature in your walk with God. Maturity is determined by the decisions you make that are in line with God’s Word. Allow God to show you what you need to do to move to the next level of development so He can use you to your fullest potential. Maintain an attitude of humility and be quick to make the necessary adjustments. In the meantime, recognize what stage you are in and help others who may need to grow to the level to which you have matured.
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— Creflo A. Dollar