Thursday, December 10, 2015

What is growth?

What is growth? Is acquiring new knowledge, new facts, new data or new information about God, growth? This is "growing" in a sense. We are increasing information; the amount of facts and data that we have in our memory banks so to speak, is greater. 

But what is growth for the Christian? Isn't it much more than gathering more or new facts? It is in fact something very different. It is an increase in confidence and trust in God which is a matter of the heart and not our heads. 

We must not just know the right things about God, we must believe the right things. 

The mind is engaged in the process of gathering new information but it is only a means to engaging the heart, moving the heart, evaluating the lack of trust in our heart. True growth is growth in the heart which is the result of an increase in our trust and faith in God. 

To say it another way, there is a difference between gathering information and acquiring wisdom. Wisdom is applied knowledge and requires faith in applying that knowledge. 

Filling our heads with information about God is not the same thing as trusting aka * "knowing" God in the biblical sense. 

We often confuse great knowledge with great trust/faith. The former is necessary to reach the latter and can result in increased faith, but they are separate things. You can have the former, and a ton of it, without ever obtaining the latter. 

The church is full of people who know much (and are usually arrogant because of it) but trust and therefore love God or others little.

The truest indicator of knowing in the biblical sense is humility, not arrogance. 

Certainly knowing the correct facts/information is important. If we believe the wrong things it will lead us in the wrong direction e.g. If you think you need to go south when you actually need to go north, you'll wind up in the wrong place. But the facts alone (even about God) will not necessarily change us. Only trusting, believing and than acting in faith regarding them will. We can have the perfect road-map but if we don't trust it and use it, it will do us no good and we will never reach our destination. 

* know - γινώσκω, ginōskō

Thayer Definition:

1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
1a) to become known
2) to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of
2a) to understand
2b) to know
3) Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman
4) to become acquainted with, to know

Note that knowing in the above sense involves relationship, such as what is involved in sexual intercourse. This is obviously more then just information.

A derivation of the above is 

̓πιγινώσκω - epiginōskō 

epi is a preposition that generally means: upon, on, at, by, before and add's more focus and direction to the word "know." 

Thayer Definition:

1) to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly
1a) to know accurately, know well
2) to know
2a) to recognise
2a1) by sight, hearing, of certain signs, to perceive who a person is
2b) to know, i.e. to perceive
2c) to know, i.e. to find out, ascertain
2d) to know, i.e. to understand

Epiginosko is the main variation the bible uses when talking about knowing God. 
  • For more on the challenges for the church of being puffed with by knowledge click here
  • For more on growth click here

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Grace to you
Jim Deal