Colossians 4:12 LSG – « Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. » (NIV)
God’s plan for every creature on earth is growth to full maturity. When we observe creation, whether it be animals or vegetation, we can see that a lion or a tree, for example, continues to grow until fully grown, in order to behave completely according to their nature and their species. A tree will not decide to stop growing in the middle of its growth process, and a lion will not decide to stop growing before reaching its full lion potential. Both will continue to grow during all their existence.
On the other hand we, as men and women created in the image of Our God, are the only creatures who have the choice to stop our growth. We have the option to continue learning and growing, or else to be satisfied where we are and to cease developing.
God’s ultimate plan for man is for us to be transformed every day to the perfect stature of Christ on this earth. This is true for us as individuals, but also as his Body, the Church.
There are two questions I should ask myself: What am I doing to grow as a member of his church? What am I doing to make my growth fully profitable to the rest of the body in which God has placed me?
There are two areas of responsibility for every child of God: responsibility for my own life; and the responsibility I have for the Body of Christ. With regard to my own life, what practical actions can I begin during this fasting time that I can continue even after it ends? And what practical actions can I put in place during this fast for the benefit of all members of the church where I am?
Responsibility requires discipline, and discipline requires a succession of constant actions for growth and transformation according to the nature of God.
Let us broaden our hearts, broaden our thinking, remain flexible and teachable, in order to embrace the strategies and wisdom that draw and win the souls of our generation and future generations.
I think decisiveness is a key to growth. When Paul said his infamous words to the Corinthians « When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I GAVE UP childish ways… (1 Cor. 13:11) it leads me to believe that the way we SPEAK and the way we THINK are indications of our maturity. Our growth continues as we GIVE UP a childish mentality, which is likely to be self-centered, self-pitying and self-serving. Children don’t take responsibility, and don’t have firm convictions, so tend to be influenced by others around them. That’s why Peter wrote : « You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. » (2 Peter 3:17-18) Thankfully, the Lord had provided in His body ministries that jolt us out of indifference and lethargy, provoking us to growth and equipping us for maturity : « to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. » Being stretched and enlarged with obviously involve what we call « growing pains »…but it’s worth it!