WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES?
A. It’s a common experience to see a child you’ve not seen for months, perhaps a distant relative or the child of a friend, and to say, “My, how you’ve grown!”
B. Will anybody be able to say one year from now, “My how you‘ve grown’? We need to make a commitment to grow in the coming year as Jesus grew.
A. We need to learn more. The one thing we will never stop being is learners, (Philippians 1:9-11). “9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
B. We need to remember more. Jesus quoted Scripture when He was tempted. Do we know enough Scripture to get ourselves out of trouble? Do we know enough Scripture to keep from getting into trouble?
C. ” We need to understand more, (Colossians 1:9-10), 9For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;”
1. Solomon urges us to apply our hearts to understanding, (Proverbs 2:2). “2So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;”
2. In the Psalms we are urged to understand, (Psalms 119:169), “69Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word. 170Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.”
II. We Need to Grow Physically.
A. All of us need to be healthier. We are God’s temple.
B. We need to get proper rest.
C. We need to get proper exercise. It may be, as Paul says, that it profits little, but it does profit (1 Timothy 4:7,8). “ 7But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
D. We need to eat a proper diet.
E. We need to be temperate in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25). 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
III. We Need to Grow Socially.
A. We need to be kinder to our friends (Ephesians 4:32). 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Friendship is never to be taken lightly. Abraham was called “the friend of God” and Jesus called his disciples friends.
B. We need to make friends of others (Proverbs 18:24). 24A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Friendship can be a bridge for bringing people to Christ. Many times we try to influence people without first making them friends. It seldom works.
C. We need to know how to treat our enemies (Luke 6:27). 27But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,. Jesus not only told us how to treat our enemies, He showed us how to treat our enemies. His last miracle before the Crucifixion was for an enemy (Luke 22:50,51). 50And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. One of His last prayers was for an enemy (“Father forgive them for they know not what they do”).
IV. We need to grow Spiritually (2 Peter 3:18). 18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
A. We will have to pray more.
B. We will have to read the Bible more.
C. We will have to give more.
D. We will have to resist temptation more.
E. 2 Peter 1:5-7 tells us how to do this. 5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. We begin with faith. Faith alone is not enough, we must next add virtue. Faith must find its expression in character. Character demands knowledge. We must know what is right and wrong. Notice that faith is in the heart, character in the life, and knowledge in the head.
Growth must be outward as well as inward. So the apostle Peter adds self- control. Children do not grow steadily, but we must grow steadily and never stop growing. This is steadfastness. Such steps will lead us to godliness and brotherly affection and love.
At the end of this year will God be able to say to us, “My, how you’ve grown”?
Many parents make a mark on the wall by the door to indicate a child’s height as the child grows year after year. If the Heavenly Father did that, would some of us be shorter instead of taller, more immature instead of more mature? Or would we stand taller every year?