Are You Growing?
I’m a slow reader by anyone’s measure. I’m not the person who can finish a book in a day. I am the person who may have to re-read a paragraph two or three times to get it. Sometimes reading can feel like work.
But I have grown to love reading. Typically, I am reading at least four or five books at a time. Most of those books have to do with doctrine (knowing more about God and His ways) or devotion (knowing more about following Jesus and becoming more like Him). However, I realize that many Christians aren’t seeking to discover more about those two things. In fact, reading can feel to them at times what it feels to me: work.
When I was a student in seminary, we were made to read more than we possibly could. It was taxing, exhausting, and even overwhelming, especially for a slow reader like me. I didn’t understand why we were given so much and why each professor treated their class like it was the only one we were taking. Once I was done, I didn’t want to read for a long time. I couldn’t fathom why they piled so much on us.
I get it now. They wanted to grow us. They wanted to put as many quality authors in our hands as possible, even if we couldn’t read all of it at the time. I now have some of those books I rushed through or brushed off in my stack of books to read, but I wouldn’t have known they existed without the assignment of my professors.
Good books are a gift from God to grow us, but many seem satisfied to have received Christ and remain infants in the faith. They’re not seeking to know God more, nor are they seeking to learn how to please Him better. I can’t help but think that Paul’s words to the church in 1 Corinthians 3 would be the same thing he would write to many of us today:
“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.” (1 Cor. 3:1-3a).
When we aren’t growing in our doctrine and devotion then we remain infants who are still very much of the flesh we were saved from and we aren’t being transformed by the Spirit we were saved by. This means we stay at square one and as Paul said, we remain on milk and not solid food. Practically this means that we don’t know very well the God who saved us.
Books are God’s grace to us because in them we are given access to the thoughts and teaching of some of the most brilliant Christians to ever walk the earth. Even after these writers are gone, we can still be taught by them and learn from them. God uses good books to shape, grow, and challenge us in our doctrine and our devotion. We have been blessed now in our age to even be able to access these titles on our smartphone; some are even available for free. We, more than any generation before us, are without excuse to still be infants in Christ.
The Gospel Spurs Our Growth
A holy God whom we’ve rebelled against gave His only, perfect Son to take God’s wrath that should have been placed on sinners like you and me in order to bring us into a relationship with Him. Why do we not want to know this God more? Why do we not want to serve this God more? Why are we content to remain infants?
If we really believe this gospel and if we have really been given unhindered access to the Creator of all things then why are we satisfied with milk? Solid food tastes so much better! There is so much more joy to be had in knowing God deeply and intimately.
Live in the Bible
Charles Spurgeon famously said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” The Bible is the only book of its kind. It’s living and active, able to pierce the heart (Heb. 4:12), breathed out by God in order to make us complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible holds the very words of God and is how we hear from God. If you’re not reading at all, start in the Bible; make it your primary source of growth. All other books come after.
Cam is Student Pastor at First Baptist in East Bernstadt, Kentucky. He has an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Communication from the University of the Cumberlands. Cam is married to Rachel, and they have one daughter, Charis. You can find more from Cam at www.camhyde.net