We know the basics of about growing, it’s all around us. A seed planted germinates, sprouts, grows deep and pushes up. One sign of life is growth. We see it all around us, even in ourselves. Sure, most of us have stopped physically growing. But we all continue to grow in other ways or something is wrong. When considering growing faith the question isn’t whether it grows or not, but how can we encourage along?
Paul wrote, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, NASB) Faith grows in community and family, but only if it is put to use. Just getting together and sharing a moment doesn’t exercise faith. If it did, then we would see great faith in many groups from the Lions Club all way to a motorcycle gang.
Gathering in Jesus’ name is more than being in the same place at the same time. It means mingled roots. Faith is more about relationships than we dare to imagine. When our hearts are moved by compassion to pray and trust God for someone, faith grows. As we recognize God’s hand in the joy or the struggle, faith grows. When God’s word challenges our ways and our why’s, faith grows. Receiving the love and compassion of others for our own issues of life also grows our faith. So often we turn faith inwards, looking towards our own needs, but faith is also intended to look outward at the needs of others.
A plant has a variety of needs to grow. Soil of some sort, the right temperature, water, sunlight, and nutrients are all necessary. Likewise, our faith has a variety of needs to grow. A place to take root, to receive the nutrients of God’s Word, the water of the Holy Spirit, the warmth of fellowship and encouragement, and the light of Jesus Christ shining in our hearts. The weeds of sin and unforgiveness will need to constantly be rooted out. Given the right conditions, faith will grow.
If I may offer one other observation. While weeds grow quickly, faith often grows slowly. It’s almost like the difference between popular trees and oak trees. Popular trees grow fast, achieving their full height in only a few years. It will take decades for an oak tree to reach its height. But the oak is stronger and longer lasting by far than the popular. The point is to grow faith, but take the time to grow strong and hardy.
Grow roots into fellowship and community. Sprout new leaves by praying and encouraging others. Stay focused on Jesus and flow with the move of the Holy Spirit. Soak and grow in God’s word. It may not seem like much is changing. You often can’t tell that an oak tree is growing until a few years have passed, but it was growing all the time. May the same be said of our faith in Christ.