by Rose Avenue church of Christ
It is my hope that we have seen and understand that growth in the Christian’s life is something that is expected. Whether it be the growing that every newborn in Christ needs (1 Peter 2:1) or continued growth throughout your life as a Christian (2 Peter 3:18), growth is a key element to being pleasing to God. If that be the case, why is that so many either fail to grow or their development is much slower than it ought to be (Hebrews 5:12)? The main reason can be attributed to the obstacles Satan puts in our way. He knows that if he can find something to put in your way it could keep you from becoming what you ought to be. If his efforts persist he will cause you to be lost. We must take every step we can to remove all obstacles to our spiritual growth if we are to be pleasing to God. That begins with understand what obstacles are standing in your way. In our last article we noted two major obstacles – worldliness and distractions. Today, we want to examine a few more.
Indifference. Perhaps you have heard the joke about the man who was asked by a preacher if he knew about the dangers of ignorance and indifference. He responded by saying, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” While such may bring a chuckle, the truth is many possess one of these attitudes (or both), and that is NOT funny. Such obstacles will get in the way of one’s own spiritual growth as well as the growth of others. The fact is that many fail to grow because they simply do not care as they ought to. They know they ought to grow and often they know what they need to do. They may even be concerned (i.e. worrying) about their spiritual malnutrition. But they are do not care enough to do something about it.
Continually, the Bible speaks of the heart. It is at the center of that which drives our moral, spiritual and intellectual life in whatever direction we are going. It is sometimes described as the seat of our emotions, passions and appetites. The spiritual heart is very important. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders because their heart was not pure. Quoting from Isaiah 29:13 He said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9. If the heart is not pure, God will not accept your actions. Another example of this is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 where the importance of love is described. I encourage you to read these verses.
Indifference is a matter of the heart. It is an indication that your heart is not spiritually pure. At best, indifference means that you serve God with divided loyalty. Jesus said that such is unacceptable. He said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24
Indifference WILL manifest itself sooner or later. It will be seen in unfinished projects, poor execution of tasks, slow learning, sloppiness and unpreparedness. Indifference caused 5 virgins to be left outside of their wedding because they were unprepared. Solomon wrote, “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.” Proverbs 24:30-34. When one doesn’t care it shows up and affects all that you do. It was indifference that made Laodicea such a distasteful church to the Lord (Revelation 3:15-16).
Ask yourself, Is my service to God offered with a divided heart? When I look at the church, do I assume that someone else is going to handle the problems for us and do all the work? Do I expect the preacher to give us all of the Bible we need and the assembly to give us all the worship to God we need. As soon as “church” is over, am I out the door and on with my life until the next “appointed time”? The answer to such questions will help determine whether or not you are indifferent. And such shallow Christianity will NEVER produce the growth that God expects of us. You can rest assured that Satan will capitalize on it. We have to “desire the sincere milk of the word” that we may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2).
To deal with indifference you have to make up your mind that you are going to care more. All of the good intentions and even actions that you do take will not overcome this attitude until it becomes something you determine to do to the degree that you will not allow anything to distract you from it. If you are not growing as you ought to, is it because of your attitude? Think about it.
Ignorance is another deterrent to spiritual growth. Satan loves the soul that fails to investigate truth. He takes delight when someone reasons “I will simply follow my heart” instead of determining whether or not something is the truth. The Lord spoke of Israel saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”(Matthew 7:21)
There are others who reason that as long as we live a moral life and believe, that such is all God expects. I have heard it said before of some moral individual that was not a Christian, but attended services more faithfully than some who were and acted better as well, being told, “Why don’t you obey the gospel? You won’t have to change much in your life.” The true believer knows better. If one is considering obeying the gospel they need to know ahead of time that they are expected to GROW and keep growing until they leave this earth.
There are some who have never been taught that they need to grow. Others who have obeyed the gospel have never been shown what they need to do. They assume that all that is expected is to “go to church on Sunday” and maybe give a little in the collection. Jesus demanded growth and we know that ignorance is NO excuse (Acts 17:30). Consider the final instructions of Jesus as He was about to ascend to heaven. In Matthew 28:19-20, He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” This last phrase does NOT mean one has to know everything before they become a Christian, but they DO HAVE TO understand the concept that whatever the Lord commands they must do. How will they find out “all things“? There is only one way. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul is here calling for STUDY so that we can handle God’s word accurately.
Solomon also said, “When wisdom entereth into thine heart,
and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee,
understanding shall keep thee:” Proverbs 2:10-11
Satan thrives on indifference and ignorance in our lives. Let us determine that we will remove such obstacles and grow as God would have us to grow. In our next article we will examine some more obstacles to growth.