Editor’s note: Yesterday, families and churches all over the United States and in some other countries, too, observed Mother’s Day. While it’s a special day in many churches, women’s ministry goes on year round. This week’s devotion is slightly adapted from one of the free resources CTA has developed to accompany one of our new themes for women’s ministry in 2013, Woman of God: Growing in Grace. You may want to check out our many other free resources for women’s ministry, too. Note especially the free, downloadable women’s retreat packages!
What do you want to be when you grow up? Aunts, teachers, and moms, especially, ask this question again and again. Very young children often answer by naming the improbable: “I want to be a princess!” or “I want to be a super hero!”
Later on, as a child grows, Mom or a favorite aunt might ask again: What do you want to be when you grow up? Now the answers are a bit more reasonable: “I want to be a construction worker!” or “I want to be a teacher!”
Still later, as high school nears its end and young adulthood looms, parents often notice that the question stirs up anxiety. It’s a simple question, but not always an easy one. Young adults often respond in frustration, “I don’t know what I want to be!”
Getting to the Heart
As any mom or grandmother can testify, growing up has its challenges. There are decisions to be made, plans to formulate, setbacks to overcome. But whether we are moms or aunts, dads, uncles, or teens, maturing in our walk with the Lord can seem just as daunting. The Scriptures sometimes refer to the process of maturing in faith as “growing in grace.” It’s a lifelong process, and sometimes we may feel as if it has somehow stalled.
The tree in Janet’s back yard was dying. When the expert from the garden center came out to take a look, he could see nothing wrong. Still, the leaves were definitely drooping. “Something is strangling this tree. Maybe a girdling root?” the expert guessed. “Girdling roots grow around the tree trunk rather than outward into the soil. They slowly choke off the water and nutrients the tree needs. They often grow below ground where you can’t see them. There’s not much you can do about them.”
In Romans 7:21-24, Paul describes the stranglehold of sin. (Read it.) Like Paul, like all the followers of Jesus down through the centuries, we want to do what’s right, but our good intentions frequently fail. It can feel as though sin has us in a chokehold. As we notice sin’s grip on our hearts, we can begin to doubt that we will ever mature. We may even come to think there’s not much we can do about it.
“Will I ever grow up?” we ask ourselves.
If you struggle like that, if you find yourself frustrated with what appears to be stunted spiritual growth, listen to what God, your heavenly Father, says to you. (Read Romans 8:1.)
Because Jesus took our place on the cross, because he suffered for the sins we commit, because he died for those sins and rose again in victory, we can be sure of God’s forgiveness and acceptance, now and forever! No matter how we feel, the truth presented in the Scriptures gives us hope.
Jesus frees us from guilt’s stranglehold—women and men, moms and dads, kids and teens. In Jesus, we are forgiven. What’s more, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to cultivate the new life he has planted in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is at work in us right this very minute as we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 KJV).
So what will we be when we grow up? Listen! (Read Galatians 5:22-23.) What beautiful fruit God intends that we produce! Loved by Jesus, we live unique lives, lives that make a difference, lives that bring God great glory!
When will the spiritual fruit we just read about reach full maturity? When will we finish growing in grace? There is no commencement ceremony; no graduation day. Growing in grace is all about the process. Throughout all eternity we will continue to discover new facets of our Lord’s love for us. We will forever explore new aspects of his grace. The more we grow in that grace, the more exciting it will be!
Taking It Home
If you plan to give the gift item to the women at a retreat or some other event, say:
Each woman here will take a gift of encouragement home with them today. As you use it, remember that you are growing in grace yourselves, and you are also helping those around you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Your life makes a true difference. A meaningful difference. A lasting difference!
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the new life you have planted in our hearts. Continue to use your Word to cultivate and mature in us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Encourage us as we teach our children and as we mentor one another in the faith. Help us share your grace and love every day in each opportunity you grant to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.