God’s Gift of Growth
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people (NIV)
Paul’s letter to the people in Colossae begins with thanks. He is thanking God for the faith and love the people there have. Their faith and love for one another have increased and they are producing great spiritual fruit in their community. Paul is not thanking the people, but he thanking God for what He has done in the people. Spiritual growth is a gift.
I am a believer in each person having a unique spiritual growth plan. We are taught to put forth the effort to add to our faith, to grow spiritually. The Bible is very clear there is no spiritual growth without effort. But this can create a false sense of spirituality.
One of the subtle temptations of spiritual growth, because we put forth the effort to grow, is that we begin to think that we have done something. We might think that, by our own effort, we have changed our habits, reversed course, increased our wisdom and understanding. We must remember, however, that every good and perfect gift comes from God. No one can put forth enough effort to transform their own hearts. Only God transforms.
The new effort we give to grow in Christ doesn’t transform who we are. These habits and rituals we add to our daily life reveal a faith. Through prayer, study, and meditation, we are exhibiting a faith that God’s way for life is the best way. It is our faith to follow Jesus as the way to abundant life.
Scripture though teaches us that faith without deeds is dead. If we truly believe Jesus is the Way, then we will do all we can to put forth the effort to engage in activity seeking Him. But these activities do not affect transformation. They only exhibit a faith that God is the One who transforms us. Then God honors our faith.
When God sees our faith, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us, forming, transforming us into Christlikeness. We don’t have the power, but He does this in us and we must never suppose we have grown by our own effort. No, God has matured us because of the faith that keeps us seeking after Him.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for how you transform me. Let me never take credit for what You have done in me. I humble myself and give thanks for Your touch upon my life. Amen.