By Joel Comiskey, Living in Victory
Paul said to the Philippians, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
My wife planted a lemon and orange tree in our backyard. Planting it was easy. Keeping it from dying was much harder. She had to till the ground and provide water. Sunshine was essential. She weeded the fledgling trees, so they could bear fruit, and the good news is that we eventually enjoyed oranges and lemons from those trees. Celyce also learned some hard lessons in the process. She planted two hydrangeas plants, about the same time as the orange and lemon trees, which had a hard time surviving. The soil around those plants was too hard, and we couldn’t keep them sufficiently watered.
Growing closer to Jesus is a lot like planting trees and other plants. We can’t make them grow, but we can provide the right ingredients to enhance the growth. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
We promote cell church ministry because it provides an excellent environment for members to become like Jesus. For example:
- The cell provides the environment for members to share deeply, use their gifts, confess sin, and apply God’s Word.
- The celebration service allows members to hear God’s Word, worship together, and grow in the church’s vision.
- The equipping provides deeper training in specific aspects of God’s inerrant Word.
While the local church provides an excellent environment for growth to occur, individuals need to continue that process through:
- Daily devotions
- Praying without ceasing during the day
- Continual confession of sin
Married couples should meet regularly to pray and have devotional time together (Celyce and I have found it valuable to read a daily marriage devotional together).
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we work with the Holy Spirit in the process of spiritual growth. The local church and the spiritual disciplines are essential in providing the ingredients for growth. God is the One who gives the increase.
Our orange and lemon trees are still growing. We will enjoy oranges and lemons for years to come, but we must continue to care for them. Interestingly, one of the hydrangeas’ plants sprang back to life after lying dormant for many months. Celyce’s ruthless pruning seems to have paid off.
Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we will become more like Jesus on a daily basis. As Paul said to the Galatians, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).