In their book ‘Blessing your spirit’ Sylvia Gunter and Arthur Burk introduce us to the idea that we can ‘grow’ our spirit, and that our spirit is not given to us like one of our physical attributes, like our height or the colour of our eyes, which is in our genetic code. The spirit that the Lord has given us and which came alive to Him when we were born again, is something we can grow and develop as we do our minds or improve our physical skills.
Throughout the New Testament there is encouragement, and even expectation, that we will be growing in maturity in Christ, and these two authors have encapsulated, in a fresh way, that we can be instrumental in growing or strengthening our spirits as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
They point out that for some of us our minds and emotions are far stronger, far more developed than our spirit, and so it can be hard for us to hear the Lord or to know His love and His leading in our lives. If we are to be ‘led by the spirit’ we all need to allow the Holy Spirit to keep filling us, Ephesians 4:19 and 5:18,19, and we also need to do all we can to ‘build up’ or ‘grow’ our own spirit.
We know from Ephesians 4:9-13 that we grow spiritually through the ministry of gifted leaders in the church. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, whose ministry is to build us up until we all attain to the ‘whole measure of the fullness of Christ’. Those with these ministries the Lord called and equipped as ‘gifts’ to His body. We have all been blessed by such ministries and if we receive their imput as a gift from God, with thanksgiving (as well as discernment), we will grow and mature under their care. As we receive them with thankful hearts we will get the reward from honouring them in this way, Matthew 10:41.
Ephesians 4:15,16 also tells us that our spiritual growth comes as we build each other up in love, by speaking truth to each other. Not pointing out faults, as some have used this verse, but reminding each other of truths which will feed our spirits and cause us to mature in our faith. In this way we can all contribute to the whole body as we ‘grow up into Christ’ who is the Head.
Finally as individual believers, we are encouraged to build ourselves up through feeding on Gods’ word to us. Paul spoke to the elders from Ephesus and encouraged them with the words ‘Now I commit you to God and the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified’, Acts 20:32. That word is now written down for us in both Old and New Testaments. As we read it, not just for information, but with a thankful heart, it will be working in us the transformation we long for.
Paul also encouraged the Christians in Corinth to ‘edify’ themselves, build themselves up by using the gift of tongues, their spiritual language, another gift from God, 1 Corinthians 14:4. Jude who wrote the last epistle (as they are arranged in our bibles), exhorted his friends with the words ‘build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’ Jude verse 20.
So we have four wonderful gifts from God with which we can build ourselves up and grow our spirits to become strong, mature and more Christ like. We have Gods word, we have those in our lives with gifting to help us grow, we have our fellow believers in the body, and we have the indwelling spirit praying from deep within with our spirit. If we can receive these gifts with thanksgiving, with the gratitude that they warrant, we will find that they will bear maximum fruit in our lives as we seek to follow the Lord. All four will help to ‘grow us’ in our spirit and become more like Jesus every day.