The Scriptures speak of our growth – but not an uncontrolled or unguided growth. That would be more like cancer. Rather, God’s intention is that we grow with a purpose – that purpose being maturity, and the process toward it being maturation. Purposeful growth. Thus the purpose of disciples is to become like Jesus (Luke 6:40). We are to grow up into Him (Ephesians 4:15).
Purposeful growth speaks to God’s intent to take us from spiritual infancy through spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood – that is, from conception to maturity. (Sometimes the Bible calls this “perfection,” meaning “maturity” and not “sinless” – as in James 2:21-22.) Thus from Bible verses like those below, we can easily perceive the growth process God intends for us as one leading from conception to birth to infancy to childhood to adulthood (man, mature, maturity). Becoming full-grown is obviously the goal.
Just as an apple seed is predestined by God to become an apple tree, so we who are born of the spirit (John 3:6) are predestined to become conformed to the image of God’s son (Romans 8:29) – if we continue growing. For those who walk away (John 6:66), however, only a worse state results (2 Peter 2:20, 21, 22). Therefore, let us continue growing in Him that we may grow up into Him (1 John 2:6).
This growth to maturity is the course we are to follow. It is like a course of study. That is, it has a beginning and an end. Our goal is, of course, to finish – that is, complete – the course. We are to end up mature.
The Bible compares our spiritual growth to that of both plant life and human life:
- Growth Like a Tree (i.e. from seed to tree to fruit)
- Growth Like a Man (ie. from an infant to an adult)
The following verses make some reference to growth, but without being specific to the plant or animal kingdom.
Matthew 21:43 – producing the fruit
1 Corinthians 3:5-9
Philippians 1:6 – began, perfect (mature)
Colossians 2:19 – grows, growth
James 1:21 – implanted
2 Peter 1:8 – unfruitful
2 Peter 3:18 – grow