Stunted Christians

January 19, 2013

Stunted Christians

            I grew up on a farm in Nebraska.  I can’t remember a time when my father didn’t have some pigs.  It was often my job to feed and water them.  Almost every year he had one or two stunted pigs.  He called them “runts,” It might be offensive to talk about runted Christians so I chose the word stunted.  Stunted pigs were often those who didn’t have as much appetite as the others.  It may be also that they had some physical ailment.

We could say that stunted Christians are those who, for one reason or another, don’t have as much desire for the Word of God as they should have.  I Peter 2:2 tells us that spiritual growth is by means of God’s Word.  “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.”

There are a number of reasons for the stunted growth of Christians.  On the part of children and young people, there are some who just aren’t good students.  Not all have the same mental capacity.  They may have a learning disability.  When that is true they may also be hindered in their adult life because of limited knowledge.

A lack of motivation is also the reason why children and young people are negligent in their studies.  Good teachers don’t just teach; they also motivate their students to learn.  These impediments also hinder Christians in their spiritual growth.

At other times a Christian’s spiritual growth is stunted because of a bad experience.  It could be that God didn’t answer their prayer in the way they expected.  At other times they are discouraged because of a bad experience in church or with another Christian.  That is always unfortunate, but it isn’t a legitimate excuse for not growing spiritually.

Many believers inadvertently let other things take priority and hinder their spiritual growth.  Jesus illustrated that problem in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:14-20.  Verse 19 says, “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Sometimes it’s the excitement of increasing their material possessions by working more hours: even working on Sunday and missing church.  Some are led away by worldly friends.

Some believers have to be pushed along by other believers to keep them making progress.  Their progress is slow when that is the case.  They lack personal initiative.

Many times believers reach a certain level of spiritual maturity and don’t see the need of going on.   God expects all of his children to grow and keep on growing.  That also includes retired believers.  Ephesians 4:14-16 says, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” If our spiritual growth is stunted we won’t reach the level of spiritual maturity we should reach. The more we learn the more useful we are.  God is often hindered in the work he would like to do in this world because of the lack of spiritual maturity on the part of his people.

Many times stunted Christians aren’t making use of their talents, or gifts as they are called in the Bible.  All of God’s people have been given spiritual gifts.  Ephesians 4:7-8 says, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” A little further on Paul says that the ministry of pastor-teachers is “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Stunted believers can even be a hindrance to the Lord’s work.  They may get bored and criticize instead of helping.  They find fault with what others are doing.  Some who are bored seek emotional experience and substitute that for a growth in knowledge.

Don’t be satisfied with the progress you have made.  God is going to make some phenomenal changes in us when we reach our heavenly home.  Until then we are stunted Christians if we don’t allow him to go on perfecting us.  I John 3:2 says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  Keep on going and growing.


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