“From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known.” “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own… One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way.” “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ These words are trustworthy and true.” Isaiah 48:6; Philippians 3:12-15; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 21:5
Seeing new growth on an established plant is invigorating for my soul. I have lived and learned for decades of life, and have a certain measure of confidence in what I know to be true in both knowledge and experience, but I can never stop growing. There are always new facets of my infinite God with which I can become acquainted, aspects of life in Him I can appropriate. Just last evening I heard someone speak about rest, and the Spirit opened up in my mind a whole new understanding of Jesus’s finished work and intention for me that I had never considered before. Our time here on earth is given that we might know Him better and be made more like Him every day. As deep our roots, as sturdy our years, there is always new growth that can sprout.
Watching Paul grow from a fiery opponent of Jesus to a zealous teacher and defender of the gospel convinces me he is quite mature, yet I marvel at his honest view of himself in his letter to the Philippians as one who has much still to learn. What an example are his urgency and zeal to leave behind where he has been, and his determination to keep straining forward in discovery and Christ-likeness! When we compare ourselves to others, we enter dangerous territory of either hopelessness that we can never know as much or be as deep, or platitudes of feeling superior which can slip us into complacent spiritual smugness and lethargy. What strikes me about Paul is he is always looking to Jesus, pressing on to know Him, laser-focused on the only One to whom he should compare himself and Who he wants to imitate.
The better we know Jesus, the greater grasp we have on areas where we need to mature. Drawing strength and nourishment from our roots in Him, we can, by His grace, put out new leaves from the fruit of His Spirit, stretch wider in our compassion and love, grow higher in our discernment, deeper in faith. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Lord, may I never stop wanting to grow. Give me perseverance to press on. Cause to sprout in me, day by day, new knowledge, discernment, righteousness, insight, and love of You, for my maturing and Your glory. (Philippians 1:9-11)