I would like to conclude this topic by mentioning three things necessary for growing to maturity: patience, faith, and grace.
We were taking a group of boys along the trail up here, and looking at fir trees of various sizes. There were some just getting started, some about as big as the boys, some about as big as me. And when we looked up we could see other fir trees fifty feet tall, and others a hundred or more. From the smallest of them to the tallest they are all the same trees. There’s only one significant difference between them—time. Growing up takes time, and so we need patience.
Be patient with each other. That is usually even harder than being patient with myself. I know how long it takes for me to grow. I’m know I’m just figuring these things out. But it’s a little harder for me to watch you stumble. “Come on, get with it!” When I stumble, “Oops! Have patience with me, I’m still growing up.” It’s easy, isn’t it, to scowl at each other, and to give ourselves grace. “Tarry one for another,” (1 Corinthians 11:33) was said about taking communion. Wait for each other to catch up. There are many relationships where we should apply this command. I’ll speak to husbands. God put you husbands in a special position to wash your wife in the water of the Word. Lead your wife, lead them gently. Tarry for them. Teach them. Help them back up when they stumble. Get down with them and help up, dust them off, tell them how pretty they look, and continue to lead them. Leading means you do it first, you do it the harder way, you do it more, and let them follow along behind you. Have patience.
In Isaiah 28:9 we read, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts”—we’re talking about little babies again. “For precept must be upon precept.” That’s how growth happens. It doesn’t say to cram in a month-long, 24-hour-a-day dissertation and then we’ve got it. A school child has said, “I wish that learning was all ready in there. It’s hard to learn.” “Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:10) That’s a child-training verse for parents, and that’s a growing-up verse for Christians—for baby Christians, for maturing Christians, for mature Christians. We must continue to grow line upon line. The biggest trees continue to put on one ring a year. It takes time.
To grow in God means we must also grow in faith and grace. Grace is God’s power. Faith is opening our hands to receive it. So in order to grow in His grace, we have to grow in faith. We’re saved by grace through faith, and we grow by grace through faith.
Paul told the Thessalonians, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3) The Thessalonian church was a great encouragement to him because their faith was growing. They were laying hold of the promises of God. Their faith was working and active. It was coming out all over in their lives.
Grow in faith—and that means trusting God. Grow in faith for more things, in more ways. Find bigger promises to lay hold of. Seek the Lord. Ask Him, as the apostles did, “Lord, increase my faith.”
As your faith grows, you can lay hold of more grace, more power to grow. Peter concludes his second letter with this exhortation: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18) As you receive more grace, you have more power from God. You realize more of His kindness toward you. More of His acceptance of you. More of His love surrounding you. As you have more power from God, you’ll be more able to weather the storms. More able to serve Him. More able to become a mature, perfect, and fruitful child of God.