He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)
What is spiritual growth? What is spiritual maturity? What is it to go on in the Lord? I fear we have got mixed ideas about this. Many think that spiritual maturity is a more comprehensive knowledge of Christian doctrine, a larger grasp of scriptural truth, a wider expanse of the knowledge of the things of God; and many such features are recorded as marks of growth, development, and spiritual maturity. Beloved, it is nothing of the kind.
The hallmark of true spiritual development and maturity is this: that we have grown so much less and the Lord Jesus has grown so much more. The mature soul is one who is small in his or her own eyes, but in whose eyes the Lord Jesus is great. That is growth. We may know a very great deal, have a wonderful grasp of doctrine, of teaching, of truth, even of the Scriptures, and yet be spiritually very small, very immature, very childish. (There is all the difference between being childish and child-like.) Real spiritual growth is just this: I decrease, He increases. It is the Lord Jesus becoming more. You can test spiritual growth by that.
Everything was created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16 NLT)
The key to everything with God is Life.... We must realize that Christ's ascendancy, supremacy, power, ability and all that goes with Headship, is in terms of His prerogative of Life. He is the Son, vested with Life; He has the right given Him of God to give Life to as many as believe. That is why He is Head. You can set up people in office and make Popes of them and they may make great claims, but what does it amount to? When you come up against death, what can they do? But bring in one who has the power of life over death, be he ever so humble on this earth, he is head, he is master, he is lord. You may bring all the greatest physicians that the world knows into the presence of death, and when death takes charge, they are helpless. But supposing you bring in a little, insignificant person who is nobody, with no capabilities whatever in this world, no training, and that one be invested with the power of life over death, he rules out all these others, they are as nothing in his presence, he is lord of the situation.
Christ is Head, not just by appointment, but in terms of Life. We may be very insignificant people on this earth, nothing at all to be taken account of by the world, but if only we have Christ in fullness of Life we are in a supreme position, we make all the great organizations and institutions as nothing. It is a spiritual thing, the impact of Christ; not tradition, not history, not theology, but the spiritual power of His presence in terms of Life through faith and righteousness.
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died. (Galatians 6:14 NLT)
A truly crucified people are never in danger of the world. It is only when the Cross has not done its work that the world has a place. The world has no place with a crucified man or woman, or a crucified company of believers. The Cross is a great defensive against the world. If you want to keep the world out, put the Cross in its place. If the Cross is truly in its place in fullness, then everything else will come into order. The Cross is the great defensive against the world. The Cross is the great defensive against evil powers. The Cross makes everything safe; it makes everything safe for the Lord.
You see, the Lord wants to commit Himself. He wants to trust Himself to His people, but if the Cross is not there at work, the Lord cannot trust Himself to them. The Lord says, "It is not safe for Me to give Myself there, or I should be involved in their un-crucified condition." The Cross makes everything safe for the Lord, and the Cross makes everything safe for the Church. If the Cross is really at work in all of us, we can trust one another. It is quite safe to trust yourself to a crucified man or woman.
"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!" Hebrews 4:12
I see more and more in Holy Scripture, a perfect adaptability to the various ills of mankind.
A friend went into one of our lock factories, and he was shown upwards of a hundred locks. He was told that none of the keys would open any of the locks, except the particular one for which it was made.
But then a master-key was shown to him, and this would open any of the hundred locks.
I believe Holy Scripture is like that master-key! There are myriads of human hearts, with various sins, temptations, sorrows, cares, and fears--but the Bible is fitted alike to each and all. It points out theremedy for every form of misery and evil--it leaves no heart and no trouble without some balm suited for its need.
Holy Scripture is our Father's love letter to His redeemed children. We may trace the handwriting. The spirit of truth, holiness, and love is seen all through. We mark that He knows and provides for the needs of every one in His large family. There are warnings to caution us against every form of sin, however subtle. There is consolation provided for every one of the manifold varieties of human woe. Pain and suffering, anxieties about the future, disappointments, losses, bereavements--not one of these evils, or any other, but we find some appropriate solace, some heavenly promise, that can lift the heart of the believer above it. Who could so completely have provided for every need--but He who made man and knows the hearts of those whom He has made?
It seems to me that young ladies have many suitors for their hand!
It seems to me that young ladies have many suitors for their hand. There are those who lay siege to a young lady's heart and endeavor to carry it off as their prize.
Here comes Fashion, and, in its train, dress, and show, and jewelry--and whatever ministers to vanity and pride.
Here comes Mammon, with its presents of gold and silver, and perhaps a home where there is every luxury and comfort--but where there is no room for God.
Here comes Music, with its enchanting strains, taking the first place, becoming a ruling passion, perhaps bearing sway even in the House of God, occupying the whole attention, robbing God of the heart, shutting out all true, spiritual worship, and any earnest heed to the Word of life.
Here comes Pleasure, assuming a thousand forms--the dance, the drama, the theater, and I know not what else beside--alluring with its siren voice, deadening religious impressions--leading the soul far away from Olivet, Calvary, and Mount Zion.
Here comes Ambition, perhaps making use of intellectual gifts, perhaps of other means, to rise high in the scale of society--but with no thought of using such a position for the glory of God.
Here comes even Vice, clad in some fair disguise, fed by ideas taken from the light reading of the day, and beguiling the restless and unwary into paths of unspeakable peril.
No doubt each and all of these have much to say for themselves, and will not resign the effort to make you their prey without a struggle.
Have you given your heart or hand to one or another of these? Have you permitted any one of them to exercise such influence over you, that you have been hindered in serving and following Christ?
If so, I am sure you will find disappointment. The present gratification may seem to be worth something--but what about the dregs of the cup? What will they leave behind, when health or circumstances prevent your further enjoyment of them?
Ah, there is often the yielding to some earthly pursuit or amusement--that the soul is robbed of the real joy and gladness which would otherwise rise up and fill a young life with its overflow of peace and usefulness.
What the world calls pleasure scarcely deserves the name, and very soon dries up like a brook in summer. But Jesus is a fountain always near and overflowing with joy that never fails!
I know of but one worthy suitor who may well claim your hand, your heart, your life, your all. Only yield yourself to Him in genuine sincerity, only give yourself to Him without the very least reserve--and you can never be disappointed, nor fail to secure the very best that your heart can desire!