What causes growth? How do we grow as christians? Many will reply that the primary cause of growth comes through spending time in prayer and in God's word. Yet such is only half a truth. In our vegie garden each year, a number of plants spring from the soil and produce supply for our table. Though not directly planted by us in that season, they are the fruit of previous year's harvests. Previous year's plants continue to produce fruit because they evidence the truth that growth depends not only on what we take in, but on the things that we give out.
How we humans need to listen to the plant world!
If we are to grow in Christ, we do not simply sit and listen to Bible studies and sermons, nor simply read christian books and listen to christian music (although such can be an important stimulus and food for growth). We need to put into practice the things that we are learning - to put ourselves in the place where we can minister to others. As we seek to serve others, we grow.
We need to remember this as we reflect upon the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to every believer. One reason why many people never discover their spiritual gifts is because they neglect to begin by serving others. Every spiritual gift is functional - empowering a believer to serve others in significant ways, whether through hospitality, encouragement, administration, or healing (to name but a few). In seeking to serve others, we discover the gifting of God's spirit. When we refrain from serving others, we fail to discover spiritual gifts, and stunt in our growth.
A tomato plant shows its nature by the tomatoes it produces; a plum tree shows its nature by the plums it produces. It also offers the gift of protection from the weather. When each fails to offer what it is designed to give, its growth is stunted, its usefulness limited. A christian shows her/his nature by the fruit s/he produces, and the other gifts evident in their presence.
If we really want to grow closer to God, we need to put ourselves in the place of service, either within the ministry groups of the church, in the community, or in some new adventure that God may be calling us into.
The plants keep teaching
us of God and his ways, if only we would listen!
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