The Importance of Growth (Psalm 119:17-24)
Many years ago, little a 12 year old boy who lived far out in the country, had never, in all of his life, seen a circus. You can imagine his excitement when one day a poster went up at school announcing that on the next Saturday a traveling circus was coming to the nearby town. He ran home with the glad news and the question, "Daddy, can I go?" Although the family was poor, the father sensed how important this was to the lad. "If you do your Saturday chores ahead of time," he said, "I'll see to it that you have the money to go."
Come Saturday morning, the chores were done and the little boy stood by the breakfast table dressed in his best. His father reached down into the pocket of his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill, the most money the little boy had possessed at one time in all his life. The father cautioned him to be careful and then sent him on his way to town.
The boy was so excited he skipped all the way to town. As he neared the outskirts of town, he noticed people lining the streets, and he worked his way through the crowd until he could see what was happening. Lo and behold, what was approaching into town was the circus’ parade! The parade was the grandest thing this boy had ever seen – it was majestic! Caged animals snarled as they passed, bands beat their rhythms and sounded shining horns, midgets performed acrobatics while flags and ribbons swirled overhead.
Finally, after everything had passed where he was standing, the traditional circus clown, with floppy shoes, baggy pants, and a brightly painted face, brought up the rear. As the clown passed by, the little boy reached into his pocket and took out that precious dollar bill. Handing the money to the clown, the boy turned around and went home. What had happened? The boy thought he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade!
The psalmist wanted a long life, and if the psalmist had a long life and lives, he would be able to honor God by keeping His Word for a long time. The danger of not knowing the Word of God is very great, so the psalmist prayed for God to not keep His Word from the him. Those who reject the Word of God err greatly. In all their rejection of the Scripture, they show they are making a big mistake regarding the Word of God. The Bible is the greatest book ever given to mankind, but the proud reject that truth and so, err greatly in their understanding about the Word of God. This portion of Psalm 119 addresses the issue of how to grow spiritually and avoid spiritual ruts and rot. It gives us principles or rudiments for ripening or growing spiritually in the Lord. As we continue to grow spiritually, we can maintain a sweet spirit in Christ and make our lives count for Him as we endeavor to serve and glorify our master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and others that are burdened and need our help.
We know that salvation is just the beginning of all that God has for us. The wonders, excitement, and blessing of knowing Jesus Christ begin when we are saved, yet there is so much more to come. We have so much to look forward to. Unfortunately, many people get saved and are content only with their decision. They don't go any further in their walk with God and refuse to grow spiritually. They are like the little boy that was content with the parade and missed the circus. One of the troubling issues concerning many Christians today is their failure to growing spiritually. Many believers, after a number of years, tend to get into a rut and then they begin to spiritually rot. They become bored, bitter, and then a burden because they lose their focus of what they are supposed to be doing for the Lord Jesus Christ.
We all have to make numerous decisions that determine the outcome of our lives. Some are minor, some are major; but they all are used to shape our lives. In the multifaceted world in which we live, we desperately need God’s wisdom for making sound decisions. Wisdom will not be attained if one neglects the Word of God. One should never wait until a crisis hits and then open the Bible up for some emergency guidance. God’s wisdom and direction come from a thorough knowledge of His Word, gleaned over the years as a person walks closely with Him. Being born again doesn’t automatically make one knowledgeable in the Bible. We must apply ourselves with diligence and discipline in order to learn the Word. In the process, we must be taught of God, of course. But we must also spend time and effort learning (Psalm 119:15-16, 18, 27, 33-34, 73, 78, 102, 108). With the busy lives we all lead, it takes discipline. We must make it a priority to learn the Word.
When a believer ceases to grow in the Lord, often their compassion and a concern for Christ and souls is replaced with a critical, caustic, carnal spirit. Instead of being nice, they become numb, negative, and knocked out of effectiveness by sin, selfishness, and Satan. This not only happens to those in the pew, but it is possible to happen to the man that stands behind the pulpit, too.
Five Scriptures Concerning Our Growth in Christ:
1. In Unity: Ephesians 4:3, Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
2. In Love: I Thessalonians 3:12, And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.
3. In the Word of God: I Peter 2:2, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
4. In Godly Habits: II Peter 1:5-6, And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.
5. In Grace and Knowledge: II Peter 3:18, But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.