Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Challenge of Christian Growth

By Jeff Arnette


    One of the things I learned to enjoy in my life is my quiet time. During this time, usually the first hour of my day, I read scripture, pray, and write in a journal. My goal for this is simply to write down how I’m feeling about life, faith, and struggles, reflecting on my actions and feelings. I will write down verbatim the prayers for the Lord’s help in the areas I am struggling. I shouldn’t be but often I am surprised that during that quiet time, I find comfort and wisdom for the very things that are hurting me. I’ve come to accept that the Lord uses this time to help me reflect on His will and Word and how that should be used during the struggles.

    I shouldn’t be surprised that the Lord would encourage growth in every aspect of life. Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. What that means is that he grew physically, emotionally, and most important “in favor with God and man.” God in the flesh was willing to endure struggles and even the need for growth. He grew up and often it was the struggles that made him stronger.

    Consider Matthew 4:1-11. In this passage, Jesus Christ was led into the wilderness by the Spirit for 40 days of temptations and trials by Satan himself. In addition to that, Hebrews 5:8 says he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.

    Have you ever considered why God would allow Jesus to endure the very same temptations, struggles, and hardships that we endure? Hebrews 2:18 says he suffered so that he could help those who suffer, those who are being tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says that he is our great high priest and able to sympathize with our hurts and pain because he endured the same things. The answer to the question is simple: Jesus was allowed to grow in this life so that he could help us through it, understand us, and empower us to live in victory.

    Struggle always makes us stronger! It was true for Jesus, and it is true for you. James 1:2-4 says that struggles and hardships is meant to make you stronger. Don’t be ashamed that you struggle. Don’t be ashamed that you need to mature and grow in areas of your life. Jesus grew, learned, and struggled through this life but he didn’t allow them to define him. His faith and connection to the Father defined him and his purpose in life. He was able to see beyond the current struggles, hurts, and pain to its greater purpose and we should strive to do the same.

    The need to grow in our faith and our personal lives is often pushed aside with our desire to have easy lives. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. You are worth it and its yours for the taking. The Lord wants to bless you, open the windows of heaven, and pour out blessings until there is no more need (Malachi 3:10), and fuel our growth. All we have to do to enjoy this is put our faith and trust in the Lord, be open to the potential for God’s blessings, and walk in it.

    The Lord expects us to desire more, to grow, to long for the spiritual milk that will help us grow (1 Peter 2:2). Don’t let Satan rob you of the growth and blessings that you need for success in this life. He is a thief and a robber, and he will rob you blind if you allow it.  Be open to growth, humble enough to face life and struggle with the desire and faith for growth.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

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