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Checking our personal growth


“If only I could be this, or that, or give up this, or that, then I would be different and life would be better.”


This article is based on a look at Ephesians ch4 & ch5 v1-20. You will find it helpful to read this passage before coming back to this article.

Make it so

I wonder if you are one of the people who makes new year’s resolutions. The subject comes up every year in conversations. We hear that people make resolutions about this or that, they join gyms, go on diets and the like. Why?

It seems to me that if you are trying something you want to keep an eye on then New Year seems such a great time. It is a great marker from which we can measure and really watch our progress. And despite the fact that it is just a change in the numbers on the calendar, like any other day, somehow it does affect people and make them want to start something fresh.

Why is that? Is it that people are disappointed with how they were last year and they want to make a concerted effort to be different this year. “If only I could be this, or that, or give up this, or that, then I would be different and life would be better.”

New year, for many, is a time of both disappointment and hope. Disappointment because last year so many things happened that we wish we had handled differently. Or disappointed because no answers came to difficult problems we faced but hope that in the next year things will be different. We know we need to be better and we set out, with gritted teeth, to make it so.


God has made us distinct, with a personality, and he doesn’t want to eradicate that.


Changed and changing

As Christians there is a deeper need to change. We are a changed people but we are also a changing people.

We are already changed because when we become believers in Jesus Christ it is as if we are being born again. Our spirit joins with the Spirit of God and a new being is created, different from who we were before and we have the Holy Spirit as a seal or marker to show that we are different because we are under new ownership.

The Ephesians passage uses the image of changing clothes when we come to faith (v28 and those following). We put off the old self and put on the new clean self. We are changed.

But we all know that although we are different in our essential nature—we have become a Christian—we don’t suddenly become different in character. We are still the same in that respect. God has made us distinct, with a personality and he doesn’t want to eradicate that. Yet our personality and character has been spoilt by living our lives to that point without God and we spend the rest of our lives being changed , growing to remove more and more of the rough edges to become more perfect. The Ephesians passage several times (v13, 14, 15, 16) uses the imagery of growth. It speaks of being infants and growing towards maturity. It is highly unlikely that we will get to a point where God says “ok now Linda, there is nothing more to work on. You are just the way I always planned you to be” No, we will not be righteous and Holy, to use a couple of Bible words, until we reach heaven. Why is that? Firstly we are constantly being deceived by Satan who is very good at his job. It his mission to make us slip up. Secondly we will never be perfect in this life because we live in a world where there are consequences to the freedom God has given to mankind. People choose to live outside of God’s good plans and as Christians we are affected by that.

Life without growth is no life at all.

Healthy growth

So we need to grow. Life without growth is no life at all. We all know that growth doesn’t happen by itself. When I think of my children growing they need feeding, watering, clothing, air, safety, love etc. Lots of different thing all come together to produce a healthy growth. And so it is with growth in faith.

So what should we do? Should we write a list of things that will ensure that we will grow better and better and then we can rest assured that we will be more like Christ and closer to heaven if we keep them all? Well I came up with 55 things in this passage alone and it is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of other passages where we are told to be this way, and do that. Keeping all the rules would be difficult but surely something worth trying to do if we really think God is someone worth reaching. Oh, but that reminds me rather of the Pharisees. Jesus was always saying these fastidious law-keepers were so far from the Kingdom of God. So why do Paul and others set these instructions before us? He does say do this and do that, give up this and give up that.

This is a tool to help me not a list of laws to beat me over the head with.

Useful tools

A few years ago a good friend of mine gave me a book. Only a good friend gives you this sort of book unsolicited. The book gives advice and encouragement to help sort out our domestic worlds. In it the author suggests we write lists of the things that we want to achieve each day. Well this suits me down to the ground and I have in my kitchen multiple lists to help me check that I do all the things that I want to do. When I first started doing it my husband used to take the micky and look at my list and say “oh you haven’t done this yet” or “that yet” and I would repeatedly say to him that it is a tool to help me not a list of laws to beat me over the head with.

And so it is with passages like the one we have before us. This is a list of what we are aiming at not something to make us feel bad because we don’t measure up on our first, third or twenty-third day of being a Christian.

They are tools to help us look at our lives and prayerfully come before God and say “which area of my life should I work on today Lord?”


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This article © Linda Faber 2006-2009.