Growth is almost universally considered a good thing… But not without exceptions. When an adult “outgrows” their pants size, it is usually bad. The issue is more dramatic when one hears a tumor has grown. Other than these two expectations, however, growth is generally positive. It is good to grow in our physical abilities, mental abilities, or our capacity to do our jobs well. It is good to grow an investment, our intellect, maturity, or even our spirituality. More often than not, growth is good.
WE WANT GROWTH, BUT WE DON’T WANT TO GROW
We want growth, but I'm not convinced we all want it badly enough to go through what is needed to actually grow. In fact, many times when we have opportunities to grow, we complain or try to avoid it. We want to grow, but only if it requires little to no effort or sacrifice on our part. For example, many of us would like to be healthier, but not at the expense of going to the gym every day or eliminating ice cream. We would like to grow in financial strength, but not if it means saving and investing rather than buying what we want right now.
DO WE WANT “CHRIST-LIKENESS”?
Most importantly, I might suggest many of us don’t really want to grow in "Christ-likeness" enough to do what it takes to be conformed to His image. Consider the fruit of the Spirit. Of course we want love, joy, peace, patience, etc., but not enough to be glad as they are developed in us. Consider the following:
The best way to grow in love is by being around those who are hard to love. Jesus says, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?"
The best way to grow in joy is by enduring difficult circumstances. Joy is found not in only positive situations, but true joy can permeate our lives regardless of the situation at hand.
The best way to grow in peace is to find yourself in times of uncertainty, instability, and anxiety. We can’t develop peace amidst the storm, unless we go through stormy times.
The best way to grow in patience is to encounter irritating people and situations. We grow in patience when life is hard to deal with, and we don’t like what we are living through.
I could go on through the rest of the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5, but I think you get the point. The fruit of the Spirit is the character and nature of Jesus replicated by the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Profound spiritual growth comes as we begin to see Christ formed in us, which is the direct result of a believer living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I believe the things God uses to help us grow are many of the things we try to avoid, but maybe we need to re-evaluate our lives and ask ourselves: Do I really want growth?