We are often called towards growth in our walk with Christ. Ministry organizations and pastors are making a push for discipleship, moving beyond attendance and “casual” Christianity towards actively following and pursuing Christ-likeness.
There are warning signs that we are not growing in our relationship with Christ; signs that say, “Hey, you’re still a baby when you should be growing towards maturity.” We must honestly examine ourselves and realize that if we have one or more of these conditions, we need to get more serious about our personal growth in Christ.
When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he told them about the various ministries God had given to the Church (4:11): apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The following verse gives these ministries a three-fold purpose for the Body of Christ. Then he wrote that they must do this…
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ… [4:13-15 ESV]
From these verses we learn that we are supposed to be growing up – maturing – into Christ. Unfortunately, there are times when we find ourselves living like children in our relationship with Him. Verse 14 gives us three warning signs that we are still children, immature, failing to meet Christ’s call to growth.
“…tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…”
Are you looking for the freshest, newest, latest word from God? Does it have to be new and amazing for you to pay attention to it? Are you so “hungry” for God that you gulp down every piece of information from every source that you can find? We are supposed to come to Christ like little children, having faith in His every word. But not every word is His, not every word is true, and not every word applies to you and your situation.
2. Unable to Discern
“…by human cunning…”
I am a preacher, a reader and a writer. I like words. However, fancy words, original language studies and glitz and glitter are not automatic qualifiers for acceptability, either.
We have to be careful to follow John’s advice:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1 John 4:1 ESV]
“…by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
As a minister, it breaks my heart that there are so many who take advantage of God’s people. They are seeking to build an empire, a name for themselves or a bank account. It’s out there, and it happens in the name of Jesus. We have to learn to guard ourselves against the schemes of wolves in the sheepfold. I knew a man who gave a lot of money to a prophetic ministry for tricks and gimmicks to be healed by God. For two years after this man’s death, the “prophet” continued to send letters and requests for money. I truly believe in the prophetic gifting and the gifts and working of the Holy Spirit today, but this just really makes me sick. Guard yourself against crafty, deceitful schemes.
It is very easy to find new word from God. Jump on the internet and Google a topic; turn on your local Christian radio station; tune into a national (or international) Christian television station. There’s just one problem: Just because something is available does not mean it is biblical, accurate or even beneficial to you. Airtime is still buyable in most media outlets. We must guard our hearts, test everything that comes our way, and ground ourselves in Christ, our Head.