Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1982
NUMBER 12, PAGE 3,11a

Growing Up

H. Edward McCaskill

"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus' Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen " (2 Peter 3:18) The new born babe in the Lord is to grow. He IS to achieve the proportion, spiritually, of a full grown and matured individual in Christ. (Eph. 4:13; Heb. 5:14) Without doubt, one of the greatest hindrances to the cause of Christ in our generation is the failure on the part of brethren to develop and attain a total degree of manhood. The lack of serious reflection that should be attached to this matter is often shrouded with the greater desire to substitute the pleasures of the "eye, flesh, and pride of life." A personal sense of consciousness in this regard is our only solution to the problem.

Spiritual maturity has degrees. No one of us could say we have developed to the point where we cannot improve. Yet, there is such an apparent indifference and lackadaisical attitude in the matter of personal application that you would think we believe ourselves incapable of improvement. Genuinely interested Christians who profoundly desire to grow will want to know — How can I be helped? May I name at least three things for you to consider.


One of the marks of a mature Christian is his ability to get along with brothers and sisters in Christ. Children at play often get into silly wrangles and disputes that are indeed nonsensical. Yet, many adult brethren are so childish spiritually and produce by their juvenile actions such resentment and agitation in the congregation that you would think their level is only "child play." Most of the petty peevishness in congregations is due to this matter. These are the ones who must fuss about how long the preacher preaches, the heat of the building, too many services of the church, "nobody is friendly up there," "the elders are lazy," and other matters of little genuine concern. They are the ones who feel that the entire strength of the congregation lies upon their shoulders and without them you may as well close the "church-house" doors. The mature Christian gives consideration to his brother first. "Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying." (Rom. 15:2) "In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another. (Rom. 12:10) Mature children of God will strive to be perfected with their brethren in the same mind and judgment.


James teaches us, "For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also." He is telling us that a sign of development is ability to control our speech. Without any controversy we could say that improper and untimely speech has caused more heartache and more division in the Lord's church than any other one thing. The ability to reserve one's opinion and judgments and exercise self-control and restraint in speaking to brethren and others is a genuine mark of a mature brother. "A fool uttereth all his mind, But a wise man keepeth it back and stilleth it." (Prov. 29:11, A.V.) Too quickly do we often give someone "our thoughts" without properly evaluating them. Too often we have been guilty of "we really told them off" when it is we who should have been told. Idle words destroy the unity of God's people and will destroy the soul. Speaking evil of brethren, misrepresenting positions, judging motives, and backbiting denotes the "babies" among us. The mature Christian utters words which edify and build. His tongue speaks those things which befit sound doctrine. His age has brought him to the point to adequately discriminate when to speak and when to be silent. He speaks words of truth, purity, and knowledge. A congregation can well get along without the immature tongue, but is incapable of successful work without the mature.


The Hebrew writer states, "For everyone that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for full-grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. (Heb. 3:13, 14) Another mark of maturity is the ability to take solid food. Christians should develop to the point where they can take "meat" rather than continually be fed on "milk." Many brethren, even those who have been members of the body for years, are still of the "milk" variety. They cannot answer the simplest of Bible questions, nor are they able "to give answer to every man that asketh" a reason concerning the hope that is in them. This is the reason, that congregations of long establishment do not have qualified elders. This is the reason that few gospel preachers are coming from homes of Christians today. This is the reason that proper corrective discipline is not administered to the disorderly in the majority of churches This is the reason that public discussion is disallowed in the majority of the churches of Christ. This is the reason that present issues concerning institutionalism plague the Lord's church. How can you successfully teach someone the errors of the Missionary Society, Human 'Institutionalism, the "sponsoring church," Herald of Truth, when they do not even know how many books there are in the New Testament or cannot tell someone the Lord's plan of human redemption?

So much priority has been placed on numerical strength during the past few years and such little thought to really maturing that we have reached the falling off point. "Sound" churches are not as sound as we might think because of inadequate growth among members and "liberal" churches are so near to complete denominationalism and total collapse, their recovery is practically impossible.

What you do in this matter is the real thing! Concentrate on personal development. If possible, try to make up the lost ground while perhaps you can. Brethren should get in the habit of "growing up."

— 840 N. Miranda, Las Cruces, New Mexico