What We All Need
Being a Christian means a commitment to a life of growth. We can never afford to be stagnant or “hold our own,” thinking that we have attained an adequate level of growth, knowledge, and action. The Scriptures teach that we are to desire the pure milk of the word that we might grow unto salvation (1 Peter 2:2). This requires a maturing process whereby we gain wisdom and the ability to discern good and evil (Heb 5:14). Without growth, we die. There is no in-between spot on this where we should feel that we’ve attained all we can. We are making a life-time covenant with God that we will continue to seek Him, learn from Him, and do His will. Like Ezra, we continually seek to study God’s will, do it, and teach it to others (Ezra 7:10).
Here, then, are some of the fundamental, basic needs that we all have as Christians:
1. More Knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-6). Many know the “basics” about Jesus and salvation, but then may not be so committed to pressing on to learning more. Learning is not a one-time action. In fact, once we begin to learn and appreciate what that means, we will develop a thirst for more. We cannot give up the search, lest our lack of knowledge become a reason for our downfall (cf. Hosea 4:6). Knowledge of God’s will is lacking today, and we need to determine that such will not be a problem with us. We must be a people of the book, knowledgeable, and able to go to the Scriptures and point squarely to God’s revealed will. Work hard at study to make sure that you can handle the Scriptures accurately (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15).
2. More Growth. We speak here of growing in all the various aspects of the faith. Peter put it this way:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet 1:5-8)
All of these function together like a beautiful orchestra of character. We do not lay aside one of these traits to put on the next one, but rather while our faith is still growing, we add more virtue, knowledge, and so on. Issues that hinder growth, such as selfishness, worldliness, and lack of commitment must be put away. Let us, then, resolve to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18).
3. More Prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1). Prayer is vital to the life of a Christian. In fact, failure to pray is sinful (cf. 1 Samuel 12:23) and indicates a severe lack of spirituality (Colossians 3:2; 4:2). We need to spend more time in prayer praising God (Acts 4:24), giving thanks to Him (1 Thessalonians 5:18), asking of Him (Matthew 7:12), interceding for others (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and confessing our sins (1 John 1:9). Prayer is something we need to make time for, resolving to do it because it won’t happen accidentally. We need to set aside time purposefully. If we struggle with how to pray or with what to say, the Psalms provides such powerful examples from which we may learn how to pour out our hearts to God.
4. More effort to teach others (Matthew 28:19). Evangelism is a struggle for every generation, but we cannot afford to ignore the need. We are in the business of teaching and persuading others (2 Corinthians 5:11). We need to be doing this by our example (Matthew 5:14-16) and by our words (Colossians 4:6). The early church took this seriously (Acts 8:4), and so must we if we are going to see any growth today. God wants everyone to hear the gospel and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Please, don’t leave it up to a few. Make that effort yourself. Is there not one person you can share the gospel with? One person who will study with you? Have you asked? Will you try?
5. More Participation (Ephesians 4:16). Everyone needs to get involved in the work of this church. To have proper growth, as God intends, each individual must do his or her share. We need those who will teach, encourage, give of time and money, sing, lead singing, and help out in the assemblies. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. This is not a show; just do your best. At the same time, this is not just about who can or will serve in a public capacity. Great service takes place “behind the scenes” by those who desire no accolades. God knows what we are doing, but never can we afford to simply sit back and let everyone else do the work.
Let us dedicate ourselves to growth in Christ, always reaching for excellence as we seek to do His will.