Bible Reading: Galatians 4
Growing up as a ‘last born’ came with its own peculiar challenges. And yes, shout out to all ‘last born’ children out there! I really think we have been largely misunderstood and misrepresented through all generations.
There were errands and tasks that we were made to run without being given fair consideration. Maybe more painfully though, there are typical responses that we would be handed out without being heard out. Some of them hurt terribly. I particularly remember how that after voicing your brilliant opinion in an argument or conversation, everybody would just turn aside and maybe chuckle and say things like ‘he’s immature’.
I think every ‘last born’ can relate to that friend of your parents that would hear you speak, and rather than admit his ignorance or intimidation in the light of your sheer wisdom, would simply turn to your parents or any other adult around and ask questions like how old you are and then would in a most degrading manner, say something about how you’re just a child- almost suggesting that he was born as a full grown man like Adam. It was a major blow beneath the belt in sibling contentions (using the word ‘fight’ would make it sound like I grew up in violence) that I’d be looked at and told to ‘go and grow up’.
I would leave those moments really wondering whether there was some cream to rub on my head that will grow me up; or a surgery to undergo, where they’d activate some settings in me to make me grown up.
I really wanted to have a what-to-do and not have to come back to those same insults every day.
In our reading today, Paul is demonstrating just how important growth is for every one of us in the scheme of things. Entrustment and inheritance flows in the direction of maturity, not ownership identity.
Pin that right there and never forget: Entrustment and inheritance flows in the direction of maturity, not ownership identity. Not age, but maturity.
It’s beautiful to study about all that we have in Christ and all that he has paid the price for us to rightfully own. But Paul clearly emphasizes that it will happen in us to the extent that we are growing. Being childish equates us in entrustment to a slave who has no ownership rights, despite the fact that Christ died for us to own it all.
It is a major mark of wisdom that we are constantly embracing a growth jounrney. What will this never-ending growth journey look like in your context?
I’ve watched each of my two children get to that point where they’d do anything to use your stuff- wear your shoes, sit in your chair, try on your glasses, and all that. In Jesus, we have the potential to grow and become so much more than we are right now. But we must respond to that with effort.
Let me share a few simple handles that I’ve learnt about growth with you:
1. Growth is Deliberate
Growth is more than mere desire. It must be something that we deliberately invest towards.
It has to be a system that we are deliberately engaging, and not something that we merely hope to get into. Just like it is in the natural, growth involves a feeding (or diet); it involves several systems within our body that are set up so masterfully to work together.
What intentional steps can growth over the next one year look like for you? Or in your marriage? Or career? Who can you be listening to? What should you be channeling effort towards? Where should you be spending more time? What should you be doing different? Those are the kind of conversations that are at the foundations of growth.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV, emphasis mine
2. Growth is A Process, Not an Incident
Sadly, I never found a ‘grow up’ cream to rub on my head, but over the years, I have found several growth journeys to travel. Make sure that you’re not somewhere in your mind just looking for that ‘miracle’ on the other side of every prayer- make sure that you’re embracing the processes that God invites you to.
The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at baptism and led him into a forty day wilderness season, not just to the Synagogue pulpit.
Growth must be an ongoing process for us, not a historic occurrence we point to. What are you learning in this season of your life? What is stretching you? What are you training yourself towards?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little. Isaiah 28:10 NKJV
3. Growth is A Painful Process, But One That is Worth it
One of the reasons we seem to shy away from the frontlines of a growth conversation is that it can many times be a painful process. It’s a lot easier and more convenient to indulge in immature spaces than to engage the discomfort of growth.
My little children, I am in pain again over you, like a mother giving birth. I will feel this pain until people can look at you and see Christ. Galatians 4:19 ERV
Look at that- labour pain?! I can tell (from experience!) that that’s some!
But what’s more is the joy on the other side of it. If you just think of growth in the pain of the processes and the weight of the responsibility, you will be pretty sad and overwhelmed. But remember the joy of the reward! Think about your becoming! Think about the transition from a slave-like child, to a responsible heir. Think about Christ being formed in your character. Think about the so much more that God can do in your marriage and your family as he walks you through his processes.
I invite you today to have an honest look-in-the-mirror conversation with yourself: Have I been growing lately? What are the immediate steps that I can take today towards growth? Are there areas that you need to consolidate on your growth or challenge yourself to more growth?
It is wisdom to grow. The story of where your life is headed and the sustainability of the promise over your life is hinged on your growth. Don’t just desire to go up in life; grow up! Remember that everything that goes up comes down, but everything that grows up stays up.
May the Lord make you so much more than you are today.
Something To Pray
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all Galatians 4:1 NKJV
Pray that you will not live less than the desire of God for your life because of immaturity