As I continue studying about growth I am once again struck by things that are so familiar to me but that hit me over the head like a two by four. I finished looking at all the passages that related to spiritual growth or increase and then decided to make a couple lists, one that was a list of commands and another that was a list of prayers. As I compared my lists I realized that they were very similar. There are only three commands that I could find where we are commanded to grow or increase. We're commanded to:
Grow in brotherly love (I Ts. 4:12)
Grow in the grace of our Lord(II Pet. 3:18)
Grow in the knowledge of our Lord(II Pet. 3:18)
Paul's prayers were similar, praying for their love for Christians and for all men to increase(I Thess. 3:12) for their knowledge of God to increase(Col 1:10) , that their love grow in knowledge and depth of insight (Phil 1:9) and that they increase (grow) in faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness & love (II Pet. 1:5-10).
So as I sat there thinking about all this I asked myself, "How do I grow in all these things?"
I remembered the passage in John 15 and decided to reread it focusing on the answer to that question. It's such a familiar passage but so easily forgotten. The passage seems to progress, "Abide in the vine...abide in His Word...abide in His love." The word ABIDE means to remain as one, not to become another or different. It started becoming very clear to me. I had been a bit perplexed at the fact that there were commands to grow or increase and yet there were other verses that said that God causes the growth. (I Thess. 3:12; I Cor. 3:6-7; II Cor. 9:12) I have developed a love for my garden here in Nicaragua and I love to watch my plants grow. As I began to think about this passage in John I thought about my roses. The branches will not grow on their own, they cannot even cause the growth but as long as they are ONE with the main stem they continue to grow and eventually have beautiful roses. I cannot cause my own growth but as long as I am one with the vine, Jesus Christ, His Word and His love He will cause the growth.
I John 2:6 says "the one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked"