Growing in Character

A. All of us growing older every day. Can't do much about that!

1. There’s a good and bad side to that.

a. The bad part is the effects of age. Loss of memory, deterioration of the body

b. The good side is that we gain experience & knowledge.

1) And we should grow closer to the Lord.

2) “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor.4:16)

B. Many areas of growth are the result of our deciding to grow. It requires effort on our part.

C. Lets look at some areas in which we may grow.

I. We Can Grow Up.

A. Everyone starts out as a “babe in Christ.”

B. Consider some of the negative qualities that children have.

1. “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” - Eph 4:14

a. They are easily deceived (too trusting).

b. Some predators prey on children because they are easy marks.

2. 1 Cor.3:1-3 Children fight & bicker, “You’re not my friend anymore.”

a. Sometimes adults aren’t too different. They need to “grow up.”

b. Mature Christians don’t behave (or think) that way.

C. Children have some very positive attitudes. “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” - 1 Cor.14:20

1. Children are forgiving. “I’m never going to play with you again!” Ten minutes later they’re playing.

2. “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” - Matt.18:3

II. We Can Grow In Grace & Knowledge.

A. “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” - 2 Pet 3:18

B. The basic meaning of “grace” is “unmerited favor.” More precise meaning is determined by context.

1. God’s grace is given, not earned. (Though man must meet God’s conditions before it is given.)

2. To “grow in grace” means a deepening of our relationship with God.

C. Growing in knowledge comes from study. We are motivated when we study things that interest us.

1. You may have hobbies or interests where you’re excited to learn more.

2. Learning more about God’s word should be more than just a mere hobby.

a. How often do we read or study God’s word?

b. How often do we turn to Him in Prayer?

3. Knowing God means knowing His word. “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” - 1 Cor. 15:34

a. Paul was speaking to Christians, and he said that they didn’t know God.

b. In context, they didn’t know what God said about the resurrection, therefore, they didn’t know God.

c. “Knowing God” is not simply a feeling or experience, it is believing what He reveals about Himself and His will.

III. We Can Grow In Faith.

A. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other" - 2 Thess. 1:3

B. “Faith” is also used in different ways in the Scriptures.

1. Obedient faith, which is action prompted by belief.

2. “The faith” is NT doctrine delivered by the Holy Spirit.

3. Then there is “my personal faith.” This describes the things in which I trust, and put my confidence.

a. The Jews put their confidence in the flesh (Phil.3:3-4). Their conviction was strong, but it was in the wrong thing.

b. We choose to have either a weak or strong faith. Strong faith isn’t something that just happens to us.

C. Rom. 10:17 tells us how faith comes, & grows. By hearing the word of God.

IV. We Can Grow In Love.

A. “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” - Rom 12:9-10

B. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,” - 1 Pet. 1:22

1. “Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.” - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

C. Love manifests itself in many ways. Rom. 13:8-10

1. Love is best expressed through our actions. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” - 1 Jn.3:18

2. Love is shown in forgiveness. Lk.7:37-38, 44-47 (esp.47)

V. If We’re Not Careful, We Can Grow Weary.

A. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” - Gal. 6:9

1. One of the first indications of discouragement is lack of prayer. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” - Lk. 18:1

B. Elijah became discouraged in 1 Kings 19, but God told him of 7,000 others who were faithful.

1. We may go long periods of time and see no obvious fruit to our labor. Remember: "in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart".

2. It may be that, like Jeremiah, we convince very few. We must endure so we can gain the reward.

C. The key to overcoming discouragement: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Heb. 12:1-2

VI. We Can Grow Cold.

A. In our attitude toward God.

1. Jesus said to the church at Ephesus, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev.2:4).

2. Relationships require work.

a. Anybody married longer than 2-3 months knows this.

b. God tells us how to keep from growing cold.

1) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” - Jms.4:8

2) Jesus told the church at Laodicea to “be zealous and repent” (Rev.3:19).

3) Heb. 10:22-23

B. And in our attitude toward one another.

1. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” - Matt.24:12

a. The context is the destruction of Jerusalem.

b. Where divine law is not respected, love vanishes.

c. When people don’t believe they’ll answer to God, they won’t respect His word. Men will follow their own course.

2. This is another way of describing indifference to one another

3. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another.” - Rom.12:15-16a

VII. We Can Grow More Worldly.

A. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” - Phil 3:18-19

B. Materialism can be difficult to avoid, because we need material things for our physical survival. We must remember:

1. Material things are temporary. “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” - 2 Cor. 4:18

2. Material things will vanish away. Heb.1:10-12

C. In the end, the only thing that matters is your relationship with God.

Conclusion—All of us are growing in some direction; either in our relationship with God or in our ties to the world. Where are you headed?

A. Consider the question asked by Peter in 2 Pet.3:10-12

By Dan Gatlin

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