Plants have certain requirements for growth and some discernible patterns in their growth.
In order to grow a plant requires nutrition from the soil, plenty of sun light, and faithful watering. If these conditions are not met then the plant will never grow to its full potential or possibly experience no growth whatsoever. The simplest pattern that can be seen in a plant’s growth life is that the plant will mature in stages. It will not go from a seed to a watermelon overnight. You don’t have a mighty oak tree a week after the acorn was placed in the earth. The growth of a plant holds great understanding for us in light of what God has to say about our spiritual growth.
Like the plant, our spiritual growth has certain requirements. Spiritually we also require nutrition. Our nutrition will come from the words of God. It’s to His Light we must turn and bask every day, flourishing in its life giving spiritual nutrients.
1 Peter 2:2
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow.
Have you ever seen a baby when he becomes hungry? Nothing will satisfy that baby short of the milk he desires. A baby will do whatever it takes to receive his milk; thankfully for parents “whatever it takes” for a baby is limited to crying. Yet that is how strong a desire a baby has to receive his milk and that is how strong a desire we need to have for the words of God.
The proper environment for a Christians spiritual growth begins with an earnest desire. The Greek word translated grow in 1 Peter 2:2 is auxano. Auxano refers to a growth that comes from within because it is the thing’s nature to grow. Auxano growth also comes in stages and can never be forced or produced by pressure.
And why take ye thought for rainment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin:
Grow is this verse is auxano. A plant has growth life. It is the plant’s nature to grow taller and stronger. You cannot force this growth in a plant but you can aid its growth by providing the proper environment such as sunlight, water and nutrition in the soil.
Luke 1:80 And the child grew…
The word grew is again auxano. Like a plant, it is the nature of the human body to experience growth.
Have you ever seen some¬one force a plant to grow taller or bushier? A similar question can be asked about a child. Can a parent force a child into quicker growth or a more prosperous growth? Consider then that this word is used in reference to spiritual growth. Could anyone then force or pressure another person to grow spiritually?
...and increasing in the knowledge of God.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
The word “increasing” in Colossians and “may grow up” in Ephesians are the same Greek word auxano. God desires spiritual growth for His children.
Spiritual growth will come for a person when the proper conditions are met; like sunshine, water, and soil are required for a plant. If the body of a developing child receives no exercise and is never served nutritious food, then the natural order of that body will be hindered and damaged. So to, a person with God’s gift of holy spirit will grow spiritually when it is fed the truth of God’s Word in love.
Further, when we observe the growth of a child’s body during his formative years we can clearly see that each day does not bring new vertical heights. The growth of a child comes in stages, we call them growth spurts. Yet between these spurts the child’s body is working and preparing for the next spurt. Even though it can appear from the outside that the child has ceased growing, his body continues to perform its functions along the lines of growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (auxano).
God gives the growth spiritually. No one can tell from the outside what God is working in the heart and life of another person as they are prepared for their next spiritual growth spurt.