Growth from Within
I have used the word auxano many times in these teachings. I used it a lot in the previous teaching. It seems like a good time to revisit that subject.
Blue Letter Bible defines auxano like this; “to cause to grow, augment; to increase, become greater.”1
Helps Word-studies says of auxano; “auksánō – properly, grow (increase); become greater in size (maturity,”2
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says; “to cause to grow, to augment: 1 Cor. 3:6; 2 Cor. 9:10. Passive to grow, increase, become greater”
Strong’s Concordance says; “cause to increase, become greater, increase, grow, to make to grow.”
As good as those definitions are, and they are good, I know there is more we can see and learn about auxano.
Auxano is used for plant growth, for the growth of a child, and for spiritual growth. A quick review will help us understand what God’s Word is saying about our spiritual growth.
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow [auxano]; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
This is the first place the word auxano appears in the New Testament. Jesus is speaking to everyone at what we call the sermon on the mount. He asks those present, why are you taking thought about your clothing. The Greek word for “thought” is merimna and means, to be anxious.
Next, Jesus gives his listeners a task, “Consider the lilies of the field…” To consider how the lilies of the field grow (auxano) all the way through to producing a flower. Notice also these lilies are in the field, they are what are called wildflowers.
They do not toil, meaning work to buy clothing, they do not spin, meaning sit at a spindle to make their own clothing. Yet Solomon at the height of his glory was not dressed as well as one of these flowers. So, how does a flower, in this case the lilies, get to look so beautiful? The obvious answer is God, but what other learning can we receive from our consideration.
God’s Word gives us an account of Solomon’s court in the days when the Queen of Sheba came to Israel to visit Solomon.
1 Kings 10:4-9
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, it was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
These verses do not show us the splendor of Solomon’s manner of dress, but they give us the comments of the Queen of Sheba concerning the apparel of Solomon’s servants and his ministers. I think Solomon dressed better than those who served him.
These facts give to us the setting, or context, of the lilies for our consideration. Now, where do you take it from here? Put yourself on that mountain side. You are sitting in the grass, perhaps with a friend or another family member. You hear Jesus present this challenge. But you do not stop listening to consider the lilies because Jesus is still speaking, and you do not want to miss a single word.
Later, after you are back home, your young son turns to you and asks you what Jesus meant by consider the lilies? “Why would I think about a wildflower?”
Your friend, who was with you and your son, listening to Jesus looks at you with fear in his eyes. Without uttering a single sound, he tells you, “Please, don’t make me answer.”
You glance over at your wife and daughter who have paused in their meal preparation to hear your answer.
You are thankful you had time to consider the words of Jesus on your walk home. You open your mouth and begin by saying…
Here are some of my considerations twenty centuries after the event.
This declares to us that the look that God has given a flower is more beautiful and regal than the best the world can provide and produce for a beloved king. God gave the lily its appearance thousands of years before Solomon was even born.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his [its] kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his [its] kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
These thousands of years later, God is still caring for the lilies of the field.
What an amazing husbandman!
What magnificent beauty God has given to such a small aspect of His vast Creation.
“Consider,” in Matthew 6, is the Greek word katamanthano. Manthano, you will remember, we looked at in another series Mechanics of the Mind. But in Matthew it comes with a prefix which intensifies the definition. In Matthew it would mean, “denoting intellectual awareness gained by thorough examination.”3 So, we are looking for intellectual awareness concerning the growth of a lily.
In the first century, when Jesus was teaching, consider would refer to observation and critical thinking.
So, what did Jesus ask of those people listening to him, consider how the lilies in the field, or in the wild, grew. How does a lily that has no gardener to care for it, grow? How does a lily that has no garden walls to protect it from the elements, grow? Who waters it, how does it find nutrition without someone giving it Miracle Grow™?
What is the purpose of the lily? Are there any healing benefits to a lily? Sometimes questions can be a distraction to reaching your goal of finding an answer to what you are currently studying. When you find this happening go back to the beginning. What did Jesus ask his audience to do? “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” Keep it simple.
Jesus did not ask about the purpose or the healing benefit of the lily. These can be questions for future studies. First, you need to answer the question that sent you on your quest. Extra questions, write down and put them aside for another day, another study.
Simplicity in study techniques brings you clear answers.
Science now knows a seed contains a hormone known as auxin. This hormone gives the seed the ability to grow into an actual plant. That God placed this hormone within the seed of the plant is amazing, but the first century person considering the words of Jesus would not consider auxins. The obvious observation in the first century is that the life of the plant is in the seed. Perhaps the person would even remember Genesis chapter one that we just read.
What does the seed do to acquire this growth life? The answer is, absolutely nothing.
God gave the seed the potential to grow when certain conditions are present. To reach its full potential a seed requires nutrition from the soil, and watering. If these conditions are missing, then the seed will remain dormant.
Once the plant is out of the seed casing, roots will dive further into the ground seeking more nutrition and stability, while the beginning of a plant reaches upward toward the sun. Then, once the plant breaks through the surface of the ground the requirement of sunlight is satisfied.
These things show us the growth of the lily comes from within the seed. It is the nature of the seed to grow. It is not forced to grow, rather it responds to its environment, an environment that God provides.
A simple pattern seen in a plant’s growth cycle must also be part of this consideration. This pattern is that a plant will grow and mature in stages. Meaning it will not go from a seed to a flower overnight. Considering seeds in general, you do not plant the seed of a tomato plant today and expect to see a ripe, red, succulent tomato tomorrow. The flower of a lily will arrive after the plant has matured to its final stage. The final stage will produce a flower.
Notice the first stage is in the ground, and its nutritional needs have an addition once it breaks through the soil.
What have we learned in our consideration of the growth of a lily from seed to flower, in the wild?
In terms of auxano the potential and ability to grow is in the seed itself, therefore, it is growth from within, without compulsion. The seed requires outside elements for growth, but these elements do not compel or force it to grow, they are simply aids to its growth. Patience is also required as the plant works through its own growth cycles or internal clock.
God is the One who put life in the seed when He created it. It is God who has supplied the earth with the nutrition, and gives the plant the necessary moisture, while providing the gift of the sun. From the start as a seed to the magnificent crescendo of a flower it is God who cares for and tends the lilies of the field.
Since our study is about auxano we will leave the lilies and turn to children. The growth of children is the next way in which auxano is used.
And the child grew [auxano]…
Why does a child experience auxano growth? Because it was built into the seed, by way of the DNA. During the initial growth cycle the child is attached within and to his mother. This is the child’s first stage. In general, this stage takes about nine months or forty weeks. But specifically, the child is ready when the stage is completed, some less than nine months, some more.
Just like the plant, a child is designed to grow from the moment the seed causes fertilization, or the child is conceived. Like the lily, a child is designed to grow, it is growth from within because it is the nature of the seed to produce growth. It is a growth that cannot be forced or compelled. It must be allowed the time it requires to move from stage to stage. But now there is a variable.
With the plant God was responsible for providing the necessary nutrition, but with the child, the necessary nutrition is supplied by the mother. How she cares for herself weighs heavily on how the child develops in this first stage.
Yet there is also another variable in the child’s development.
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
Man was perfect in Genesis chapter one as he was created in the image of God and after the likeness of God. But since Adam’s sin, mankind is now in the image and likeness of Adam. The corruption in Adam’s flesh, due to his sin, is passed on to all who are the line of Adam, which means all of humanity. This also is a variable in the growth of a child.
Once the child has been born, the nutritional needs become apparent quickly. Nutrition for the continued growth of the bone structure and strength for the muscles. Nutrition for the child’s immune system. Mental nutrition, in the form of teaching the child, who comes without language, knowledge, or understanding. Then, nutrition must be given for the emotional growth and development of the child.
Soil, water, and sunlight have been replaced by physical, mental, and emotional requirements. In this we see yet another variable. As the faithfulness and perfection of God is replaced as the provider by the inconsistency of the parents, the extended family and friends. All of which provide intellectual and emotional lessons, some good, some bad.
Although most do not see it, there is a fourth area of nutritional growth that is necessary, but most are completely unaware of it. Most are unaware of this fourth area of concern because there is no outward manifestation of its need. It is obvious a child needs food to grow. It is as equally obvious that a child needs instruction. Instinctively parents seem to realize to communicate the right emotions for a child’s growth. The fourth area of growth for a child is spiritual growth. Spiritual nutrition needs to be provided. Every child is born God hungry. How can I make such a statement? It goes back to being born after the likeness of God in Genesis chapter one.
In the series on The Fall of Mankind we looked at the difference between the image and likeness of God. The likeness of God, imprinted upon the soul of man in the Garden, is what makes man God hungry and makes the child look for spiritual nutrition. Genesis chapter five tells us the imprint of the likeness of God survived the sin of Adam. If the parents do not feed that spiritual hunger within the child with words about God, then the world will move to fill that void.
Like with the plant, so too with a child, the potential and ability to grow must be nurtured in all areas while allowing the growth cycle to progress at its own pace.
When will your child begin to walk?
Some experts say by the twelfth month. Others say between the nineth and the twelfth month. Still others point to just beyond the twelfth month. Each stage in the life of a child is unique to that child. A stage takes as long as a stage needs to complete its unseen process.
Unseen to the naked eye is all that goes on physically, and mentally, and emotionally, and spiritually within the child between growth spurts. These growth spurts occur in all four areas just mentioned. The responsibility of the parent is to continue to provide good and positive nutrition in all areas, commensurate to that stage of development.
What have we seen with auxano when it comes to a child?
Like with the plant, auxano growth is built within the seed. It is the child’s nature to grow and develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and that is exactly what will happen, whether for good or ill.
With the plant all nutritional needs are supplied by a faithful and good God. But with the child all nutritional needs are supplied through the parents in what they allow to be fed to their child; physically, and mentally, and emotionally, and spiritually. Parents do not have the consistency of God and all parents do not seek to make all nutrition good and beneficial.
Finally, auxano is used for spiritual growth in the life of the believer. When I say spiritual growth, I am speaking of auxano growth in the mind of the believer. For our mental spiritual growth God has given the potential for a renewed mind.
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing [auxano] in the knowledge of God.
The Greek word translated “worthy” is axios. Most Lexicons will give you the definition “worthy” and that is fine as far as it goes. Some Lexicons will add the word balance to their definition. But a deeper look brings you to a place of understanding that axios means to walk equal to your value, that is the balance part. Your value is laid out in the doctrine of the Pauline Epistles, your walk in love, your walk in justification, your walk in righteousness, your walk in the power of the manifestation of holy spirit, your walk in the hope, your balanced walk with who God declares you to be in His Word. This is axios! This is only achieved with auxano growth.
When we considered the plant, it was all on God’s shoulders.
Who designed the seed to identify the right conditions for growth?
Who put the nutrition in the soil?
Who provided the rain for growth?
Who gives the light from the sun?
When we came to the child it was the parents who shouldered the responsibility.
They were responsible for the physical nutrition.
They were responsible for the mental instruction.
They were responsible for the emotional development.
They were responsible for the spiritual foundation being set.
The parents decide what influences are allowed in a child’s life.
Then a third area of growth is seen with the spiritual growth of a child of God.
With the plants, God cared for everything.
With the child, the parents cared for all needs.
With spiritual growth, of a child of God, the one growing determines his own growth rate.
The plant is weak and small, it requires a gardener.
The child lacks knowledge and strength, it requires an instructor protector.
The new believer is enabled to build upon the foundation of Christ in. He is filled according to his own appetite.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
This verse in Matthew is not addressed to us in the Administration of Grace, but its principle applies. “Filled” is chortazo and means filled according to one’s appetite. How much do you mentally hunger to know, to comprehend your righteousness? How great is your desire to know what it means to be a child of God? Are you hungry for Truth?
I personally know more than a few believers who would prefer to be like the plant and have God control everything. But God is not into controlling His children. God wants His children to desire to be with Him, to learn from Him, to mature as His child.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
“Transformed” is the Greek word metamorphoo. Meta, when used in the genitive case, as it is here, “refers to the mental disposition with which an action is performed.”4 While morpho means to form. Renewing your mind is to get a new mental form. We get our English word metamorphosis from this Greek word. The definition of metamorphosis is, “the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages: a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means:”5
What a definition!
Your mental spiritual growth comes in stages as you put God’s words in your mind. What is your appetite? All your life, up to the moment you believed God’s plan of salvation, the world formed your mental process, your way of thinking, your ethical standard. Now, stop conforming to the mental attitudes and logic of the world and allow the words of God to transform your mental attitudes, outlook, and manner of life. Be transformed!
And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
Renewed Mind is the only method by which you can have your mind line up with your new nature. It is your mind, and it will direct your growth and your life. How hungry are you?
When you receive God’s gift of holy spirit, it, that spirit, endeavors to help you grow from stage to stage. But without God’s Word in your mind that spirit cannot instruct you or guide you in walking worthily, walking according to your true and godly value.
The plant pushed its root system into the earth, in part, to establish stability. Likewise, the child of God needs to establish his roots in the words of God for strength and stability.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith [by believing the words of God]; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
God is love and God is His Word. Get rooted in God’s Word.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Colossians said to “walk worthy” of the Lord. To walk according to who God says you are in His Word. But God’s gift of holy spirit is not in your mind. So how does my new spirit, my new spiritual nature work with my mind, to inspire me, to instruct me?
The connection between God’s gift of holy spirit and your mind is your conscience.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Year after year Israel offered sacrifices for sin. These sacrifices for sin were a reminder that they lived in sin and carried sin with them, it was their nature, inherited from Adam. The animal sacrifice had a temporary effect, it was a temporary fix. That is why it was offered again and again. They should have seen they needed something better than an animal sacrifice, they needed a complete savior and salvation.
How many of God’s children still carry the burden of Adam’s sin? God has handled the sin problem, whether you speak of Adam’s sin or sins of their own. These do not sacrifice animals, but they do their duty, their penance, to carry guilt and shame for sin. Mentally they feel unworthy as they read the Bible or go to a building on Sunday. They are paying a price they could never afford. They are paying a price that has already been paid. In their unworthy mental state, it is their penance to earn some righteousness. The conscience is a reflection of what is in the mind.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
If Israel had received the ultimate and perfect sacrifice of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, then all consciousness of sin, all consciousness of separation from God WOULD BE PURGED!!!
But Israel has not received the fulness of the perfect sacrifice. Read First John, and James, and First Peter. Israel is still confessing their sins. They will not receive the fulness of the perfect sacrifice until the New Covenant is enacted.
“Conscience” is the compound Greek word syneidesis. From syn meaning together and the root word eido meaning to see with the eyes of the mind. The word conscience in English is made up of “con” which means “together with”6 and science which has the basic meaning of knowledge. Conscience is shared knowledge or joint knowledge. Knowledge shared from the mind. The conscience is a reflection of what you have in your mind, shared knowledge.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled, and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
The conscience is not a part of the mind, it is a reflection of the mind.
For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
For the believer who has accepted his worthiness from God, all things are pure. Nothing in and of the world can alter what God has created in you. But the mind of an unbelieving believer stops his conscience from being purged as he holds on to his guilt, shame, and condemnation. His unrenewed mind hinders auxano growth.
What is an unbelieving believer? He is a child of God who believed for salvation, but his unrenewed mind greatly hinders or stops his auxano growth. In the context of Romans 14 the unbelieving believer is identified as immature.
The conscience is the connection between God’s gift of holy spirit and the mind. It is through the conscience that the holy spirit can teach, instruct, inspire, and guide the mind in a believers walk with his Father and his brother Jesus Christ. If you carry sin consciousness in your mind, it will be reflected in your conscience. The conscience reflects what is in the mind.
“I am a sinner!”
Wrong! I was a sinner, now I have been reconciled to God. He made me righteous.
And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
Take note of the word “good.” The Greek word is agathos.
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.
Was Paul perfect after he was saved? No! He made mistakes. He did not always follow the revelation God gave him. He allowed his emotions to overrule his walk with God. We will see this as we continue our journey in the Book of Acts. But Paul says, his conscience is “void of offence” toward God. How can that be? Paul can be this way because he understood his justification, his reconciliation to God.
Justification in Romans chapter three is in the present tense, present today, present tomorrow, present next week, month, year, century, present forever. I am justified. I am worthy because God made me worthy. I did not earn it. I did not deserve it. But by the grace of God, I am worthy.
Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. If you are focused on the old man not committing sin, then you are not focused on putting on the new man, on having the mind of Christ.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
The following context speaks of his humility, his service, his obedience and God’s rewarding him. Then the context brings you to this…
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Your salvation is set and immoveable spiritually. But how is it mentally? Put forth the effort, intense effort, with respect and obedience. This last phrase, fear and trembling is an orientalism.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
“For” is gar, we have seen this word many times. It is God that works within you. Know who you are, claim it, allow your conscience to be purged of sin consciousness, so that you can grow, auxano.
Once we accept God has made us worthy the floodgates are open to remove other areas in the mind that have been molded according to the world’s standards. That is auxano growth spiritually!
In Hebrews 10:2, God says when sin is removed the conscience is purged. For the Administration of Grace God has purged the conscience from all sin through the sacrifice of His son. Said another way, God has purged the conscience from all guilt, from all condemnation, from all unworthiness, from all shame. To carry these things is to walk in the nature you received from Adam. Your new nature revels and rejoices in your loving and peaceful relationship with Christ and your Heavenly Father.
We are laborers together with God and His son. God creates holy spirit within us, we then humbly and believingly place the words of God into our minds.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase [auxano]. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase [auxano].
Whether you are reading, studying, or listening to God’s Word, that is the planting and watering, then God will give the increase, the auxano. The individual is responsible for planting his roots in God’s Word. The individual is responsible to feed upon God’s words like Jeremiah.
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
How is your appetite?
And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth [auxano] with the increase [auxano] of God.
Grow with the growth from God which comes through the Head of the Body, Christ Jesus. We work together. We are a family.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
God desires spiritual growth for His children. Just as earthly parents rejoice to see their children grow strong physically, sharp intellectually, and mature emotionally, and having a solid foundation spiritually. God desires for His children to grow and mature into the spiritual men and women He has enabled them to become.
We have God, we have His son Christ Jesus, we have the gift ministries, we have the God’s gift of holy spirit, we have the written words of God, we have the Body of Christ all for our individual spiritual growth.
2 Corinthians 3:3-5
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.
Auxano growth for a child of God is spiritual growth in the mind. To plant our roots deep into the words of God and from those roots derive nutrition to mature into a living epistles. The prevailing word comes from auxano growth.
© Auxano Ministry 2022
1. G837 - auxanō - Strong's Greek Lexicon (kjv) (blueletterbible.org)
2. Strong's Greek: 837. αὐξάνω (auxanó) -- to make to grow, to grow (biblehub.com)
3. Matthew 6:27-29 Commentary | Precept Austin
4. Prepositions - Appendix to the Companion Bible (levendwater.org)
5. metamorphosis definition - Search (bing.com)
6. con- | Meaning of prefix con- by etymonline