Thursday, November 8, 2012

And Lots of Shovels

When my daughter Candace was around 3 years old, we had planted a garden. We set up a home-made irrigation system to ensure a good harvest. To keep the hose from moving into the garden and ruining the beautiful plants, we placed shovels around the edge of the garden. Maybe there were 3 or 4.
One day Candace and her dad were inspecting the garden. Her Dad was telling her of the wonderful food we were growing. “We’re going to have lots of corn, and green beans, and squash, and potatoes, and tomatoes…”

“And lots of shovels!” Candace chimed in.

To a three-year-old, it did seem that we were preparing for a harvest of shovels. But as adults, we knew that wasn’t a possibility.

Throughout Scripture, we see references to children. Some insist that we become like little children. Others insist that we grow up and no longer think as children. So let’s see the contrast between the two and how we can determine when to be as little children and when not.

First, we can take note of the love Jesus had for little children. He saw something in their purity. In their faith. In their love. These passages show Jesus’ compassion for children.

Matthew 18: 5-6 (NIV) “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Matthew 19:14 (NIV) “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Mark 9:37 (NIV) “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who sent me.”

Mk 10:16 (NIV) “And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”

We also see that we are to believe like little children. In Matthew 18:3 (NIV), Jesus answered the question about the greatest in the kingdom. After calling a small child to join the group, He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

But once we believe, we must grow spiritually. We are not to remain as infants in our faith. We see passage after passage of how we should be growing spiritually into adults.

1 Corinthians 3:2-3a (NIV) “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.” They were like people of the world instead of people of God. Under these circumstances, it was impossible to grow spiritually.

1 Corinthians 14:20 (NIV) “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” We should not be controlled by evil and we must be mature in our thinking.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV) “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

I believe we can see from all these passages that we are to be as little children in some areas of our faith, but we must continue to grow throughout our lives in order to be spiritually mature.

And as Peter puts it, especially since we’ve “tasted that the Lord is good” we should strive for spiritual maturity. Knowing God’s goodness should be a great motivator for us to grow.

So are you growing spiritually? Are you tasting God’s goodness on a daily basis? Have you graduated from the milk and baby food of spiritual infancy to the meat and potatoes of spiritual adulthood?

If not, why not? What steps can you take to begin the process of spiritual growth?

If so, what are you doing to continue your growth? We cannot lean on what we already have produced in our lives. We must continue growing and learning.

We raised a great crop of vegetables that year. However, we didn’t produce any more shovels than were already sticking in the ground. Oh, to have the eyes and imagination of a child.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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