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Conditions or spiritual growth (3)

by on April 17, 2013

The second condition for growth that we’re going to consider is found in the first Psalm:


He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:3 (speaking of someone who delights in the law of the LORD).

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water… Psalm 65:9


The condition for growth here is being planted by streams of water. Notice that the tree is planted. The seed didn’t just happen to land here. Someone has planted this tree by the water intentionally. And it didn’t plant itself. Similarly, I can’t make myself grow spiritually – it is God who can take us and graciously plant us beside the streams of water. Be before Him about that, if you don’t feel that you are there. The picture here is that the roots of the tree go in deep, drinking the stream from the edge of the riverbank, which is saturated with water. So that, no matter what the season, the leaf of the tree doesn’t wither.

If we are going to grow as disciples, when God has planted us beside the water, we need to put our roots deep in – it is speaking about the Word, and the delight that we take in it, in the context of the rest of Psalm 1. And if we get that right, what follows will be green-ness, freshness, vitality, health and growth. So that, no matter what our external circumstances might be, and we might be buffeted with storms, the leaf doesn’t wither. The growth, and the evidence of it, in the greenness, continues – season after season, year after year. The river of God is full of water – it won’t dry up, and it will fuel growth inexhaustibly through the life of a disciple (if we let it). Isn’t it great when you can look at one who you are serving with and say: I can see that the leaf is green.

Of course, in a more general sense, what you are imbibing, or absorbing, is linked to issues of purity, cleanliness, holiness. We’re always drinking-in something because we are interacting with the world around us all the time. And if you’re not drinking in the Word, then you’re drinking in something else – and we need to be on our guard about what that might be. And whatever it may be, if it is not the Word, it is not bringing about your growth as a disciple.

Just as an aside, if you want to know what you’re drinking in, then think about how you allocate your time. What do you give it to? That’s what you’re imbibing. Think about what you boast of, what you pride yourself on, what you get joy and delight from. Perhaps that’s where your roots are. If we are taking in the wrong things, then it will not only stunt grow, but it will cause damage to us – and you know the kinds of things I am talking about.

Something that is implicit in everything to do with spiritual growth is the work of the gracious Holy Spirit. It is He who will bring us to love the One whom we have not seen – that love is not from our natural selves, it is from the Spirit. And if His work in our lives is being diluted, or worse, quenched, put out, by things we are imbibing that are defiling and polluting us, then we will lose our way entirely in the matter of spiritual growth. I don’t want to dwell on that any longer, but it is worth saying: as disciples, we need to be careful that our roots are deeply into the right thing, which is the Word.

Deep into that river of God that is full of water, fully satisfying, fully delightful – it’s the stream that will bring about growth.

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  1. Conditions for growth (4) | searching out the land

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