Why is it important to keep growing as a Christian? Because if you aren’t growing, you’re dying, retrogressing, going backward.
And if you’re retrogressing you will lose the blessings, the peace, the comfort, the wisdom and satisfaction that comes from knowing God and His ways.
So how should a Christian grow?
Your spiritual life is nourished by your invisible union with Christ.
Just like a plant gains it’s nourishment from its roots.
I once got a few slips of basil bush from a friend. I planted one in my garden and the other I put in water to grow roots. The one in water grew roots quickly and so I planted it and it flourished.
I looked after the other one diligently, mulching and watering it. But nothing happened. The leaves it did have when I planted it died and fell off. I left it, hoping it would grow, but it didn’t.
Eventually I decided it had had enough grace and went to pull it out, but as I reached out to grab it, I noticed it had tiny green leaves on it.
What had it been doing all this time?
Out of sight, it was growing a hidden life.
Without roots the bush would not grow, flourish, or bear leaves for me to use.
The roots are the most important part.
What do roots do?
As a Christian, you must grow your roots – in the dark, unseen. It’s not the leaves (good works or a profession of Christianity) that count. It’s the deep connection with God that happens in the hidden life.
Here are four ways to grow your hidden life.
A plant is nourished by the nutrients that surround it. What is nourishing you? Facebook, internet, friends, movies?
God will give you exactly the spiritual nutrition you need, but you must choose the things with which you surround yourself.
A plant has to be surrounded by good nutrients in order to grow roots. But, its roots will also go as deep as needed to find good soil.
If your surroundings are not conducive to spiritual growth and you can’t move, then do what you can to change the atmosphere that surrounds you.
The quality of your environment doesn’t have to determine your spiritual growth and condition.
If your roots are going deep into Christ, then you will grow.
Read the Bible and pray. You will not grow a hidden life without these. Ministering to others constantly will not grow your roots. Doing many good works will not grow roots. You must feed on the word of God and commune with Him.
Don’t be intimidated by those that can quote many Bible verses (or chapters). Don’t be discouraged by your small amount of faith.
Everyone starts somewhere. And everyone starts small. “For who hath despised the day of small beginnings?” Zechariah 4:10
Don’t despise small beginnings.
Something is better than nothing. So spend time with God. You will not grow spiritually unless you do.
And then say it.
Our chief work is character building and getting ready for heaven through spiritual growth.
There are many things that distract from preparing for heaven. Social engagements, Facebook, Instagram, movies, books, music, helping others, ministry.
Don’t allow these to distract you from the most important work. Say no to anything that will draw you away from Christ.
Faith grows through trusting God when you don’t feel like you can.
It grows through trials. Through testing God to see if His word is trustworthy.
Faith grows through waiting patiently for God to come through for you.
It grows in the dark. Unseen. When you are stretched beyond your comfort zone.
Long ago trees for the main masts of military or merchant ships were specially prepared. The shipbuilders selected a tree located on the top of a hill. Then they cut away all the surrounding trees that would shield the chosen tree from the wind.
As the years went by and the winds blew fiercely against the tree, it grew stronger until it was strong enough to be the mast of a ship. Battered by the storms and wind it grew deep roots to support itself.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit….” Jeremiah 17:7,8
Related: 3 Ways to develop robust faith
The basil plant that I almost pulled out did grow but it was way behind the other one. The only difference between the two? I took care to cultivate the roots in the flourishing one.
At one point the strong basil bush was attacked by worms and I wondered if it would survive. It did. I harvested many leaves from it – all because it had strong roots.
A healthy root system will sustain you through hard times. When God seems distant or you feel alone, during an illness or family crisis.
In these times you may have no time for formal quiet time with God, but you will be sustained because of your root reserve.
Root reserves are stored nutrients in the roots that are necessary for survival of a plant. These reserves can be used up. Grass must have a period of rest after it’s grazed in order for the root reserves to be replenished otherwise the plant cannot grow.
When it rains after a long period of drought, grass doesn’t always take off and grow. The reason? The grass is building up its root reserves. Only once the reserves are replenished will the grass begin to grow above the surface.
Once your crisis is over, you must replenish your reserves or your spiritual life will be stunted and may die. You cannot go on living on a past experience indefinitely.
If you want to grow as a Christian, and survive during hard times, focus on your roots – your connection with God, your faith in Him, knowing His voice, walking with Him.
Related: 6 Ways to discern God’s voice
Only Christ can be the anchor for your soul. Some people appear strong, and talk strong, but they are not rooted in Christ. They have many leaves (good works), but no roots (real connection with God). When opposition or persecution come they will fall like a tree without a tap-root.
Are you feeding your soul on the right things? Are you growing your roots as a Christian?