When was the last time you had an opportunity to watch something grow? Maybe you remember your five-year-old self bringing home a white styrofoam cup of soil and seeds and keeping a watchful eye on it, impatiently waiting with expectancy for it to sprout before your eyes after just hours of being planted. Or maybe at this moment, you have pots of flowers outside your back door waiting to be planted in a summer garden. For my husband and I, planting season has just arrived at our farm as I write. Though we don't tend the land ourselves, we can watch the step-by-step process from afar as red and green tractors and plows come and go at the start of summer, preparing the soil and sowing seeds ever so small. And, like the child who closely watches her styrofoam cup for the first green to show, we watch our fields with excitement and fascination.
Sometimes field corn, sometimes soybeans, the sprouts first begin peeking up above the ground in long, straight lines, stretching to the very edge of our back fence. Row after row of tiny "seeds," germinating, growing, showing signs of life from seasoned, fallow ground. The sun's rays beat down in the heat of the summer months until the clouds can no longer hold back their rain. Summer storms roll in one after another, soaking the ground and giving refreshment to what lies beneath the surface of the dry soil. The process seems slow, day after day, week after week, until finally, the crop is ready for harvest.
It's a wonder to watch as the farmers come and gather that harvest–the fruit of their labor filling their hands and their homes with God's kind provision. What began as just a seed buried in seeming darkness–cold, underground–when provided with nutrients and water, broke open and pushed through the dirt to meet the warmth and light of day. The seed needed these things to grow. And do we, as believers, not also need the nutrients and refreshment of God's Word, the warm encouragement through fellowship with other believers, and the light of the Lord's sustaining grace so that we can grow in godliness in our everyday lives? Let's take a look at how this can play out as we awake each day to new opportunities for growth in our faith.
- Meditate on God's Word.
Just as a seed needs water's refreshment and the soil's nutrients, we need the sustenance of God's Word. Spending time in the pages of Scripture, we learn more about who God is. We grow in our relationship with our Savior, learning about His loving-kindness, sovereignty, and faithfulness in our lives. As we draw from His Word, we grow not only in our knowledge of Him, but our hearts also draw nearer to Him as His sons and daughters. We come to delight in Him and trust His hand in our lives. By tending the soil of our lives, our faith that was once a small seed grows to produce a full harvest.
But what does this look like? It takes intentionality to sit down and study and meditate on God's Word. It often helps to have a plan, so try setting aside a time each day to spend reading a passage of Scripture. Some days this might look like reading one of the Psalms with your husband or roommate at the breakfast table, or maybe this looks like meditating on a verse you have written down on a notecard as you sit in the carline or wait on your groceries. But maybe in other seasons, this looks like an early morning, rising before the sun, grabbing a cup of tea or coffee, and curling up on your couch as you read one or more chapters in your study of a book of the Bible. Each day is different and holds its own set of challenges, so though we may not be able to spend an hour studying God's Word daily, we can be faithful to spend even a small amount of time gleaning from the nutrients and refreshment that Scripture brings.
2. Cultivate relationships with others who point you to Christ.
Without the warmth of the sun and the nutrients that it provides, the field corn and soybeans could not become much more than what the farmer planted in the ground. We would never see the crops burst forth through the soil because they wouldn't have what they needed to be healthy and grow. In a similar way, Christians need the fellowship of other believers and the encouragement that fellowship brings to our lives–to build each other up in Christ, to hold each other accountable, to celebrate with one another, to challenge one another in our faith, to lean on one another when we don't have the strength to stand. The life of a believer should not be one we walk alone. In fact, God in His Word commands us to meet together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25).
In addition to gathering each Sunday for worship with your local church, you can fellowship with other believers through a weekly Bible study. This could also look like meeting with a Christian mentor once a week to dive into God's Word together and pray while sharing with each other your joys and burdens. As the body of Christ, we help each other to grow in godliness. As we remain in God's Word, we, in turn, can pour the nutrients we receive into the lives of those around us.
3. Seek to honor the Lord in all you say and do.
Galatians 6:9 tells us, "Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up." As we continue to grow in godliness, remaining rooted in Christ and His Word and fellowshipping with other believers, we must also seek to honor God with every part of our lives. The Lord calls believers to do everything "as something done for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23), and He gives us the grace to do so. As we seek to serve Christ, we grow to become more and more like Him in the way that we live. The grace He extends to us, we extend to those around us, helping them grow.
God's children find great joy in serving their heavenly Father, and there are many ways we can serve the Lord in this way: making a grocery run for a widow who is ill, participating in local or overseas missions, making dinner for a family who just lost their child, babysitting for a friend walking through a difficult season. As our actions reflect His love, in His grace, He works through us to draw others to Himself, producing a harvest outside of ourselves. What we have gleaned in Scripture of God's love for us overflows into our actions–we become not just hearers of the Word but doers of the Word (James 1:22)–seeking to glorify Him in everything that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
You may be looking for a specific recipe or numbered steps to follow in order to grow in godliness. But perhaps, growing in godliness in our everyday life comes down to simply remaining faithful to tend the seed of our faith. The seed will not grow if kept from those things which help it grow. It cannot grow on its own but only through God's grace that nourishes and works through us to produce a harvest for His glory. What joy that we have access to that very grace through God's Word, through fellowship with other believers, and through serving one another as the hands and feet of Christ. Like the child waiting in eager expectation for her styrofoam-cup harvest, our growth may at first seem small, yet over time in God's kindness and sweet provision, indeed, the harvest it yields is great.