“Spiritual development comes when we combine spiritual nourishment with obedience. Ultimately, however, it is God who makes us grow.”
Many parents enjoy tracking their child’s growth by making pencil marks on a wall. It can be fun to look at this visual record of progress and marvel at how much our child has grown! We know that many factors affect our physical, mental, and emotional development. Our heredity and DNA program play important parts, but we have a role as well. We can nurture growth or hamper it.
The same is true in the spiritual realm. We can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and grow in grace, or we can hinder the process. In 1 Peter 2:2, the apostle tells us to “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” The Greek text literally says that we grow “into” our salvation. The shape of that growth in its final form is already determined for us. We are growing into “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
The primary means that God uses to nurture our growth is the Word of God. Peter describes it as “pure spiritual milk” that we should “crave.” This command is a little surprising. It implies that we have a responsibility to be disciplined in our intake and cultivate our hunger. Peter tells us to develop a taste for God’s Word.
Fortunately, we do not have to do this by ourselves. Ephesians 4 says that Christ has gifted the church with individuals whose ministry is “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph. 4:12). They exercise a ministry of God’s Word through preaching and teaching. They proclaim the gospel and teach the truths of Scripture. They use what they have learned to build up the body of Christ.
In the natural realm, eating and exercise go together. Food provides fuel for growth and activity. The same holds true in the spiritual realm. Spiritual development comes when we combine spiritual nourishment with obedience. Ultimately, however, it is God who makes us grow. He has given His Word and those who teach it. His Spirit grants us understanding and empowers us to obey. God is the source of our spiritual life and the secret behind our spiritual growth.
To learn more, read How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All of Your Life by Darryl Dash (Moody Publishers).