Growing up on the island of Guam, I noticed palm trees with white paint around the base of the tree trunk. I remember asking my dad why those trees were painted white at their base thinking he would give me some profound answer. He simply replied, “The white is there to measure the growth of the tree.”
It’s interesting that in every aspect of life, we attempt to measure growth. Most of us can go to a place in our childhood home where mom lined us up against a wall or a beam and tracked our growth through the years. Growth often indicates positive health. So, if we are interested in measuring growth, how does one measure spiritual growth. Psalm 1 gives some valuable insight in observing or measuring spiritual growth. Over the next three articles, we will look at observations that we can make to measure spiritual growth.
Observation #1: A person that is growing in Christ no longer takes pleasure in worldly carnality.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.—Psalm 1:1
A young Christian, or one that is not growing, struggles with the pleasures of carnality in the world. It is a constant battle. When a believer seeks pleasure in the world, his growth in Christ will be hindered. Let’s consider the alternative to seeking pleasure in the world.
1. Rather than taking pleasure in carnality with the world, seek godly counsel (“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.”)
Seek godly counsel for protection.
Where no counsel is the people fall; but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.—Proverbs 11:14
One of the ways God offers protection to believers is through the structure of authority. When we are submissive to authority, we are growing. Often, we make an excuse for our lack of submission to authority citing the lack of quality in the authority. However, God is more interested in the quality of our submission than He is the quality of the authority He allowed to be over us. It is a double blessing when the authority over us is godly authority! In either case, we should embrace God’s structure and seek counsel for protection so our growth in Christ is not stunted.
Seek godly counsel for purpose.
Without counsellors purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.—Proverbs 15:22
Lacking purpose is a sign of immaturity. When a teenager is unsure of what to do, it is wise for him to seek counsel for the next step. The same is true with believers in general. When we aren’t sure what to do, rather than halting growth, we should seek counsel to help establish purpose.
2. Rather than taking pleasure in carnality with the world, seek godly company (“…nor standeth in the way of sinners.”)
When a believer is stunted in his growth we often wonder “what happened?” According to Galatians 5:7: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you…,” we may be asking the wrong question. Many times when a believer is hindered in their growth for Christ it is not a “what” that is hindering, but a “who” they are standing by that hinders them. Rather than surrounding ourselves with company that will try to get us to fail, we should seek godly company. If we are going to grow in Christ, we must surround ourselves with people that also have a desire to grow in Christ.
3. Rather than taking pleasure in carnality with the world, seek godly content (“…nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”)
A scorner is a person that actively enlists others for their anti-God cause. For the most part, we would never “sit down” with the scorner, but we may unintentionally invite them into our lives by what we watch, listen to, or read.
It’s time to cast out the scorner and seek godly content for our lives. I am an advocate of Christian education for this reason. Why would we willingly seat our young people at the desk of those that would openly scorn God and His Word? If we are going to grow in Christ, we must cast out the scornful content and seek godly content in God’s Word and other reliable resources.
Measuring a person’s growth as a believer is more about looking at their direction. A believer that is growing in Christ will move away from embracing pleasure in carnality with the world. Instead, they will be moving in the direction that seeks godly counsel, godly company, and godly content.
In part 2, we will make another biblical observation from Psalm 1 that indicates positive spiritual growth.