I was thinking this morning of older (in the eyes of some) friends who are continuing to learn and grow. They read and discuss good literature and philosophies of education and living. I pondered if a person could see a difference in my friends’ characters from year to year — and if this was okay. You see, most of these friends are believers, and I find in the Christian world almost a fear of growing and getting better — that it is a “works-based salvation”, and they want nothing to do with that.
I find this sad, and I find it to be the opposite of the God I have come to know from the Bible. And yet, this is the God (and the Bible) that these Christians claim to believe in and follow.
I wrote previously about what it means to be Human, and how it is so much more than “to err is Human”. The Psalmist David wrote: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” And one of the things that the Creator built into these wonderfully made humans is the desire and ability to grow — to be better.
If it were not possible, and if it were not a praise to God to do so, why would there be encouragement throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures to overcome, to grow, to bear fruit, to throw off the old and put on the new? And why be ashamed of this growth that brings glory to God?
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. ~ Jesus, according to Matthew
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity… Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. ~Paul in a letter to Timothy
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, ~ Psalm 72
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge… self-control… steadfastness… godliness…affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Peter in a letter to fellow believers
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ~ Peter, further in the same letter
But so many that claim to be believers act out of fear like the one-talent man in Jesus’ parable who said: “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.” And the Master responds with, “You wicked and lazy servant!”
Do you get the idea that Jesus won’t be pleased with a do-nothing?
Or they act out of warped view of grace. They have no sense of their humanity and the Creator’s will for all with which he endowed his creation. I find some to even be proud of their never growing but remaining “wretches”. Thank God for grace, they say. Thank God for that blood of Christ that continually cleanses. They, to me, show the foolishness that Paul warned of in saying, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”
The Creator has indeed fearfully and wonderfully made Man. We are built with amazing abilities physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. To overcome. What other creature can intentionally overcome? Sure, some animals can be trained, but did they come up with the desire and plan themselves? Does it really give glory to the Creator to bury these abilities that he built in us? To change. To be better. Kinder. More Patient. More thoughtful. More giving. More disciplined. More dependable. More loyal. Growing in knowledge and wonder of the creation around us. Better at whatever our particular skills and talents are — art, teaching, music, gardening, math, engineering, crafting, cooking, etc. etc. etc.
The physical abilities and talents are one thing, but it is the obvious changes in our character that I’m really thinking of today. They should be obvious to others. They are evidence of the grace we have been given. They bring glory to our Creator.
It is nothing to die; it is frightful not to live.” ~Jean Valjean, “Les Miserables”