Lesson Five • Grow
Pastor Noble Baird
By the time this book is printed, my son Archer will be almost two years old. Even writing that seems so crazy! The blessing it has been to simply watch him from birth to now leaves me amazed. He has gone from a little eight-pound three-ounce nugget, to well over twenty-four pounds at fifteen months alone. Seeing his growth has been amazing. He has gone from formula to pulling a plate with a slice of pizza onto the floor so that he can eat that piece of pizza faster! While I could literally go on and on with how blessed my wife and I are to raise our son, I cannot help but imagine the pride Paul felt as he wrote to many of these churches, especially the church in Colossae.
- Can you share a special memory or story of growth for yourself or a loved one?
As Paul wraps up his letter to the church, he desires continued growth in their maturity and walk with the Lord. Starting in Colossians 4:2, he writes, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Without a doubt, one of the absolute essentials for growth and simply our walk with Christ is prayer. Prayer was an essential part of Christ’s ministry and Paul urges the churches to prioritize and continue this practice. He echoes these words in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” While this is not a literal command to physically be in prayer 24 hours a day, this is a mindset and holistic communion with the Lord at the forefront of all we do in our lives.
- When was the last time you prayed?
- Is prayer an essential part of your walk or just used in times of crisis or need?
Again, Paul brings up the importance of thanksgiving. In Colossians 3:15 we were challenged to be thankful and again here in Colossians 4:2, he says it. If something is instructed once, we ought to learn and put it into practice; however, if something is instructed twice, it may be because that instruction is often overlooked and neglected. Thankfulness is a part of our walk and growth in the Lord that can take a back seat. We can get too busy with our supplications and requests to the Lord because of the immediacy at hand, that we completely forget to just say thank you for the work and blessings He has already done. Thankfulness must go hand in hand with our prayer life. I want to encourage you right now, to stop. Stop reading, stop discussing, and truly take a few minutes to pray and specifically thank God for what He has done for you and how He has blessed you.
Growth takes time. I am not sure about you, but this is a truth that I have had to learn over many years and am still learning. One of the most important practices in understanding this truth is patience. Paul continues this passage in Colossians 4:3-6, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” I love how while Paul is instructing, encouraging, and teaching the church, he gives them a practical task to begin right away. He asks the church that while they pray steadfastly, to be praying for him and the Gospel message which we all share and are called to proclaim.
- When was the last time you truly set aside the time to earnestly thank the Lord for all He has given and done for you?
- What does spiritual growth look like?
Paul wrote, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders.” This phrase is so essential for us as followers of Christ as we continue to grow in Him. The book of Proverbs is truly saturated in wisdom, as Solomon was led by the Spirit of God. We all know that being human, Solomon messed up! However, that is a part of growth. We will mess up. We will overlook opportunities, we will forget at times situations that have occurred or we have experienced, and yes, sin will creep in. Yet, by the grace of God and through Christ’s finishing work on the cross and His glorious resurrection, we are forgiven! So, through those times when we mess up, we must acknowledge, seek forgiveness when needed, and grow from that situation. Then, looking back to the example of Solomon and the same calling that Paul is giving us here in Colossians chapter 4, seek wisdom from the Lord. Solomon writes in Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Also, in Proverbs 9:10 he writes, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
- What are some other passages of Scripture that speak of wisdom?
- When was the last time you asked and leaned on the wisdom of the Lord, instead of yourself?
What does this talk about prayer, thanksgiving, and wisdom mean in relation to growth? First, the only way to truly grow in our relationship with Christ is by being in communion with Him. If I decide to go weeks on end without saying a word to my son, how will I build a relationship with him? I cannot! Yet, as followers of Christ, we expect our walk to grow and we expect Him to hear us when we go weeks and even months without talking to Him at all. So, in order to grow, we must first prioritize our prayer life. Second, we must be thankful – always. We live in a fast-food society as I call it. We want everything now, we just want, want, want, and expect it instantly or next-day delivery; however, we forget our manners. We forget to thank the Lord for all He has done, for His continued provision, especially in those situations when we do not understand. Paul reminds us of this truth of thanksgiving again in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As part of our spiritual growth and maturity, we must have a heart of thanksgiving in all circumstances to the Lord. Finally, we must seek the wisdom of the Lord. As followers of Christ, we have been tasked with reaching the world with the Gospel. Yet, in order to do this, we must wholistically be wise in all that we do, so that we can reflect that Gospel which has so radically changed each of us. Paul says in Colossians 4:5-6, to seek this wisdom so that we can be gracious and effective as we carry out this mission. Again, remember that wisdom does not come from the mouth of man, but from our Heavenly Father!
- In what practical ways will you seek out spiritual growth this week, this month, or this year? (If you are struggling, please reach out to your Location Pastor or your Growth Community leader. We are in this together!)
Remember, our growth and walk with the Lord are just that, a walk and not a race. I simply want to encourage you to continue to seek the Lord personally, but also together as a group and family because we should not try to do this life alone. Paul ends his letter by listing off several brothers and sisters in the Lord, who he has done life and ministry with, that are taking the Gospel to the world. He does this to encourage the church that they are not alone. We are all in this together. Rejoice in the work that is being done! Celebration is a huge part of growth. It is not only celebration but sharing in one another’s struggles and hurts as well. No matter where you might be on your walk with the Lord, I hope that each day we are striving to grow closer to the Lord and simply reflect His Gospel to the world!