Message 21 - By Jerry D. Green

Responsibility in Growing Up


From birth one begins a journey. It will never cease as long as we live. Much of that journey is a journey of learning, and learning is a major part of growing up. For most, those first years are a blissful time. There are no responsibilities, no worries, no decisions to be made, etc. Someone else does all of these for us. Unfortunately, or perhaps I should say fortunately, for most of us those days do not last for long. Like those who are bringing us to maturity, we likewise, must prepare ourselves to become self-sufficient and able to bring our own offspring to maturity. This is an endless cycle and has been for all time.

Spiritual growth is no different from the natural growth which we have just discussed. Having been born again of God our Father, who is also the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we begin the process of spiritually growing up in Him (Ephesians 4:15). Let me make it perfectly clear that there is no process in being born again (that is to say, being saved). Either you are, or either you aren’t born again. Either you are, or either you aren’t saved. But if you are truly saved, truly born again, just like the natural baby, there is a (sometimes) painful process of growing up spiritually. I’m sixty five years old as I write this message and I can still remember very vividly some of the things I went through as a child. Among these were going to school for the first time. There were so many new things to cope with. Getting to school on time, studying, doing homework, dealing with smart alecks, bullies, etc. This can be quite a traumatic event for a young child. Yet for the most part, every child has to go through some form or another of these painful growing up experiences.

One of the worst things that come with growing up is responsibility. At some point in time, every child must (or should) begin to be responsible for some of the things pertaining to his or her own development process. This can be anything from learning to dress themselves, tying their own shoelaces, helping mom and/or dad with the chores in and around the home, and at some point, outside the home environment. If they do not, they will eventually grow up to be a burden, not only to mom and dad, but to all society.

Growing up spiritually is no different. When I first got saved I was in a blissful state. I thought everyone that said God, Jesus, Lord, or could quote a verse of scripture, etc., were on the brink of being caught away at any moment. All too soon however, I was brought back from this blissful spiritual state to the state of spiritual reality. All too soon I came face to face with the fact that there were spiritual smart alecks and bullies; that there were spiritual hypocrites who were not at all what they professed, nor what I had believed them to be; that there were wolves in sheep’s clothing, who were only too glad to deceive and fleece the flock of God; and that there were those who were and are just plain ignorant concerning spiritual things. Some of those experiences, even though I was in my mid to late twenties at the time, were very traumatic to me as a young Christian. However, as I continued to search diligently for truth and the reality therein, I gradually came to a place where I could more readily, by the Word and grace of God, discern between the true and the false, between the right and the wrong, between the good and the evil. As I came to this place of more stable ground, I could look back, thank God, and rejoice in those things He had brought me through. Even today, I wouldn’t take anything for my (ongoing) spiritual education.

As I reveled in this new knowledge and growth in the truth, I slowly began to realize the worst of all fears: With growing up comes responsibility. Now that I had become more spiritually mature, it was time for me to begin to raise my own spiritual family, so to speak. It was time for me to begin to share with others, some of the things I had been so blessed to receive.

In raising children there are many responsibilities one must cope with. A new member of the family must be clothed, nourished, sheltered, and loved.  As babes, these new family members are altogether dependent on the parents and other family members for all of their needs. And what they receive during those first few years will play a dominate part in what that child eventually becomes and how they will raise their children.

One of the most important things for these children to receive, and one of the hardest for parents to administer, is discipline. No kind, loving parent enjoys disciplining there children, “…but a child left to himself bringeth his mother (and/or, his father) to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). This is what the world calls tough love. Why do so many parents let their children do just anything they want rather than take a stand for right? Because it is easier to let them have their way than to hassle (have confrontation) with them. This is usually the result of the lack of prior disciplining. Also, it’s hard to “Train up a child in the way he should go: … (so that) …when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), when the parent is doing or desiring to do the same things.

Now, back to the spiritual aspect: As new, truly born again, spiritual children of God, “As newborn babes (in Christ, we must) desire the sincere milk of the word, that… (we) …may GROW thereby” (I Peter 2:2).  We must “…GROW in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (II Peter 3:18). We must speak “…the TRUTH in love, (that we) may GROW up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Only the TRUTH can bring true spiritual GROWTH), and sometimes speaking the truth is not easy, especially for those who are in positions of authority [i.e.; “…apostles… prophets… evangelists… pastors and teachers”]). Even though these ministries are “for the perfecting (complete furnishing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12), many times there are things which must be said and done that are not comforting to the flesh. They are necessary however, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they (All those who lie in wait to devour the newly born again child of God and keep them from ever coming to maturity) lie in wait to deceive; From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which EVERY JOINT supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16). In the spiritual family (the body of Christ), there is that which every member (every joint) supplies. This is not speaking of natural works or of church finances, but the fruit and gifts of the Spirit; The spiritual fruit and gifts which God, by His Spirit, bestows (or manifests) upon every truly born again child of God to “…profit withal” (I Corinthians 12:7). And not just for the profit of the individual member (joint), but for the profit of the whole body.

God has set forth guidelines for all the ministries of the church. Of bishops and deacons as well as all the other ministries, he says, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; (but) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without (outside the church; the world); lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 3:1-13).

These ministerial offices are not to be taken lightly for they require a great deal of responsibility. The holders of these offices will answer to God for the manner in which they are executed as well as how they rule their own families for this also can bring a bad reflection on God and His house. This is well demonstrated in the severity with which God dealt with Eli, the high priest. “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye (do) such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them” (I Samuel 2:22-25).

It’s not enough just to say my son or my daughter you shouldn’t do such things, but as Eli found out, they must be restrained (both the natural and the spiritual children), especially in the House of God. For “in that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: (and) when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (I Samuel 3:12-13).

JDG Message 21 - Responsibility in Growing Up






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