Author: Ron Graham
In this study, we consider the second element of spiritual wellbeing, namely strong spiritual growth.
Philippians 1:25. There is a link between joy and spiritual growth. Paul says, "I shall remain with you and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith" (Philippians 1:25). Note the link, "Progress and joy". God wants us to make progress. It may not be progress as ordinary mortals tend to see it, and we may not always seem to be making progress. But our progress is in spiritual development, in things which the human eye does not always perceive and appreciate, for they are seen with the eye of faith. These are the things which lead us on toward heaven.
Philippians 1:6. We should always be aware that it is God who furthers our progress in the faith. Yes, we must put in the effort, but God is the one who started us in the way, and he is the one who will lead us on to the end. Paul says, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
Philippians 3:12,15. The scriptures use the term "to perfect" for this progress, this process of strong growth. To make perfect means to bring to full maturity and completion. Paul says, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect, but I press on... Let us, as many as are mature, have this mind" (Philippians 3:12,15). Maturity, if not absolute perfection, is a strong development toward it. The attainment of maturity brings us joy.
Paul understands, and he intends us to appreciate, that while we are pressing on toward perfection, the sacrifice of Christ makes us perfect in God's sight. But the sacrifice of Christ, when he became obedient unto death, also impells us to obedience of our own after his example, working out our salvation by strong growth in righteous thought and conduct. God wants us to become mature and to excell in this.
Philippians 4:1. We can stand firm and strong in the Lord. Paul says, "My beloved, my longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved" (Philippians 4:1). There is a sense in which many Christians "stand fast" but it is the wrong sense. They stand fast in the sense of being stubborn, unyielding, unwilling to leave behind the things which are past, their old habits of thought and conduct.
Philippians 2:16. One should stand fast in the Lord, not in the old self that should have been crucified with the Lord. God wants to see vigorous and unretarded growth in his spiritual children who are "holding fast the word of life" (Philippians 2:16).
Note —SPIRITUAL CHILDREN: In scripture, “child” does not always mean biological offspring. The followers of a person’s doctrine and example are called the “children” of that person. For instance, those who imitate Abraham’s faith, are called Abraham’s children (Romans 9:6-8, Galatians 3:7).