American physicist and educator Charles Townes, co-winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for the development of the “maser” (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), from which was developed the more commonly known “laser,” was asked if he had a sense of achievement in what he had accomplished.
"Not really,” he said, and told a story about a beaver and chipmunk viewing the enormous Hoover Dam for the first time. Caught off guard, they were overwhelmed. When the beaver recovered, he said boldly, "I didn't build it, but it is based on an idea of mine."
Well, God wants his children to be humble in both attitude and action, but spiritual growth is, after all, a building process. When a person becomes a part of God’s family, he’s like a newborn baby, usually dependent on others to a great extent for his spiritual needs, even his spiritual survival. But, just like human babies, Christians are expected to grow; we’re to become more and more mature in the Lord as time passes.
You’re probably familiar with these Biblical encouragements: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:2). “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Sad to say, sometimes that’s not the case. Some, like a runner who begins a race but then sits down after just a few steps, never progress as they need to. They never reach the finish line because, for whatever reason, they stopped running. The writer of Hebrews was blunt with his readers about this deficit in their spiritual condition: “…though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).
In contrast, Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Tim.1:5).
Timothy’s faith grew from that early beginning as he worked with Paul and faithfully served with him in doing the work of God. Maybe that’s one of the secrets of growing in Christ — simply doing what God gives us to do each day to the best of our ability.
After all, we have from him everything we need to maintain a healthy spiritual lifestyle. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3).