Digital photography has made taking and storing pictures easy and inexpensive, so it is hard to imagine parents who take few pictures of their kids. Parents like to share special times with friends and family, remember fun experiences, and capture important moments in their children’s lives. Another purpose for taking pictures of children is to document growth. Parents enjoy flipping through pictures and seeing how their children change from one year to the next. But if a mother looked at pictures of her son from age three to age four and saw no appreciable difference, she would be shocked and would urgently seek medical attention for him. In fact, there is a malady that causes children to develop extremely slowly (“Benjamin Button Children…,” ABC News, http://abcn.ws/1IlUbpY).
What if there were a camera of the soul, a camera that documented spiritual growth? Would it highlight our steady growth as children of our heavenly Father, or would it show that we are staying immature indefinitely? Even worse, would it show that we are becoming younger and less developed spiritually? Some Christians don’t grow, because they starve themselves of spiritual nutrition:
- Hebrews 5:11-13. About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.
Christians must grow (2 Peter 1:3-15; 3:18), and can discern spiritual development in themselves from time to time. The Bible is not a camera, but it is a tool for measuring our Christian development (2 Corinthians 13:5). Consider the following biblical tests for growth:
- Am I more knowledgeable about God’s word than I was a year ago? See John 12:48; Psalms 119:11; 1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 6:1.
- Am I teaching someone less spiritually mature than I about the Bible? See Hebrews 5:11-13; 1 Corinthians 9:16.
- Am I less tempted to sin than I was a year ago? See James 4:7-8; Ephesians 4:27-28; 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8-10.
- Am I anticipating heaven more than I did a year ago? See 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Philippians 1:21-23.
- Am I less focused on the material things of this world than I was a year ago? See Matthew 6:19-21; James 2:15.
There is no camera that can literally photograph a spirit, and yet the all-seeing eye of the Lord our Maker can measure precisely our spiritual growth. Are you pleasing Him with your progress?