Shelby G. Floyd
Jesus Christ is the best example that I know of as to the kind of growth that God expects us to make. In Luke 2: 51, 52, when Jesus returned back to his hometown of Nazareth, at the age of 12, the Bible says that he was subject to his parents, and that he increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men. This is what we call a four-fold development or growth.
Jesus Grew In Wisdom
Jesus increased or grew in wisdom. What is that? Knowledge is one thing, and today we live in an age of knowledge explosion. In fact, they say that knowledge doubles about every ten years, at least the available knowledge. So there is so much to learn and to study today, and we can know very little about any one thing, even if we spend a lifetime studying it.
Jesus increased not only in knowledge but also in wisdom. Wisdom knows how to use the knowledge that you have, it is good judgment or making wise decisions. So Jesus grew intellectually in mind. Today there is an emphasis placed upon going to the university or college and getting a good secular education. Knowledge is good, but it is not only enough to know how to make a living, but we have to learn how to live. So we need to grow intellectually in mind or wisdom, but that is not enough.
Jesus Grew In Stature
Jesus grew in stature. That means that he grew in years or physically in body. You know this is natural. All that we have to do when we come into this world is to eat good food, drink water and exercise and we are going to grow in body. Today, there is an emphasis upon sports, upon recreation and physical fitness. You might go and exercise, lift weights and do all kinds of works to develop your body, but if you have a body that is strong and has grown physically and you have not developed these other areas which we have mentioned, then your growth is not complete, it is one sided. “Bodily exercise profits a little” (1 Timothy 4:8). But man is not a body with a spirit. We are rather a spirit dwelling in a body. The primary nature of man is spiritual rather than physical, even though we dwell in a physical environment.
Jesus Grew Spiritually
Jesus grew intellectually in mind, he grew physically in body, but then the Bible says that he increased in favor with God and with men. That means that he was able to grow spiritually in his soul toward God. That is where re¬ligion comes in. Religion is that system of things that binds man back to God. We have been alienated from God by our sins. The religion of Jesus Christ is de¬signed to reconcile us and unite us back to our maker and creator. So we must grow religiously and spiritually in our souls. Many people today have grown intellectually and physically, but they are mere pygmies when it comes to spiritual growth.
Jesus Grew Socially
But man is also by nature a social person. We are at our best when we work and live in proximity with our fellow human beings. Therefore, Jesus increased in favor with men. That means that he grew morally in heart, in life and in relationship with his fellow man. The story of the Good Samaritan has inspired more people to build hospitals, old folks’ homes and orphan homes than perhaps any other in the Bible. What is the lesson? We have to grow and develop in our relationship with other people. So we are emphasizing that spiritual growth involves growing in our souls and growing in our relationships to our fellow man. And after all, Jesus said those were the greatest commandments of all: to love God supremely and love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31).
Jesus then is our prime example of the kind of growth that every young boy and girl ought to be experiencing from the time they come into this world, mental, physical, spiritual and moral development.
Shelby G. Floyd, Minister, Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142 firstname.lastname@example.org