“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious
(1 Peter 2:1-3).”
It is your first day at work. Perhaps fond memories bring a smile to your face. Perhaps not. It is a privilege to be gainfully employed and I view my first day on the job like the day that I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. It is a day that I chose not to forget. It represents a new beginning. A transition from one state to another state – unemployed to gainfully employed in a secure job. A positive change and new outlook on life is looking back at me when I look in the mirror.
One year earlier, I had completed my undergraduate studies and desperately wanted to work. At this time in history, the United States was deep into an economic depression under the Reagan Administration. The year was 1983. Finding employment for a recent college graduate with no meaningful work experience can be a daunting task. Finally, my day arrived. Having just celebrated my 24th birthday one week earlier, my first day at work was on July 23, 1984 at the Defense Personnel Support Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is still a vivid memory that I cherish. I was passionate and eager to learn and grow. Ready to prove that I belonged. Ready to apply what I had learned in college. Ready to begin what I felt would be a productive career in the field of government contract negotiations and management. I liken it to a seed that had just been planted and more than eager to grow up to stand as tall and strong as an oak tree when it is fully mature.
Growth is a key barometer to success in the workplace. It is during this phase of one’s career that the work environment will play a critical role in the growth of the worker. It is said, “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.” In 1 Peter 2: 1-3, the Apostle Peter teaches a profound message of growth:
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”
This is a message of growth from a disciple of Jesus Christ. Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. The basic theme of this book is a proper response to Christian suffering. Peter knew that when the Christian stands for truth, justice, and fairness, they would need encouraging words to prepare them for the trials that would come. When you and I stand for truth in the workplace, persecution shall come. Peter writes this letter to give the Jewish believers a divine perspective on such trials so that they will be able and equipped to endure them without wavering in their faith.
For starters, view your fresh start as a new opportunity to learn, grow, and change. Twelve men were selected by Jesus Christ to carry out His mandate – “To seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10) – after His death. His disciples received instructions, guidance, and counseling, for three and one-half years. A disciple is a learner, student, follower, and apprentice. It implies acceptance of the teacher’s teachings and imitation of His practices (Luke 6:40 and Isaiah 8:16). Jesus’ followers were called disciples (Luke 22:29), as are all Christians (Luke 14:26-27 and Acts 9:36). Part of their growth process was for some to abandon their current professions – fishermen (Simon Peter, Andrew, James-son of Zebedee, and John), tax collector (Matthew), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), and Judas Iscariot – and follow Jesus. Jesus was their teacher, mentor, advisor, counselor, confidant, and protector. As followers and eyewitnesses, they observed His actions and obeyed His teachings, while taking heed to His consistent nature. Their leader was not a hypocrite, so the followers were open to grow and learn. The Apostle Peter’s message of growth is extracted from what he learned from Jesus. During this time in biblical history, Christians were savagely treated in Rome, and this policy was probably reflected throughout the empire. Also, Christians were found throughout Asia Minor (Republic of Turkey), as stated in chapter one, verse one. Christianity had not yet been received the official Roman ban, but the stage was being set for the persecution and martyrdom of the near future.
In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes a comforting message of encouragement to the saints at Rome. Paul’s writings mirror his gift of exhortation and are overwhelmingly encouraging to his intended audience. During his conversion from King Saul on Damascus Road, he had a conversation with Jesus. Although he was not a disciple of Jesus, Paul bears the title of an apostle because of his personal encounter with Jesus on Damascus Road (Acts 9:4-6).
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith
Considered his greatest work, Paul’s message of growth focuses on our responsibilities to God. First, we are to recognize that we must offer our bodies a living sacrifice. Live a holy lifestyle that is acceptable unto God. Eliminate the cursing, bad attitude, backbiting, lying, and whatever does not represent God favorably. That is our reasonable service, or the least that we can do. Next, we are not to be conformed to this world in caring out His mandate. Do not follow man’s lustful desires for fame, fortune, and prestige. Instead, we are to renew our mind with the word of God and in accordance to His will. In doing so, we demonstrate to the world and prove what is good and acceptable. Lastly, we are to think soberly, and not be puffed up, according to the measure of faith that God has dealt to each of us. To be high-minded means to put self before others. That does not produce growth but stagnates it.
Placed first among his thirteen epistles in the New Testament, this book explores the significance of Jesus’ sacrificial death. Using a question-and-answer format, Paul records the most systematic presentation of doctrine in The Holy Bible. It is a book of practical exhortation – encouragement. Key words such as righteousness, faith, law, all and sin each appear at least sixty times in this book.
THE THREE PHASES OF GROWTH
Growth is a process that happens over time. It never stops. The workplace is an environment that changes virtually everyday. Our ability, or inability, to be flexible to these changes either propels or stifles our personal growth. This process of growth, according the word of God, involves two meaningful steps: (1) A correct attitude that is required to promote growth, and humility, and (2) Be ever mindful of the small beginnings. This process is expressly recorded in The Holy Bible as a guide for us to follow, apply, and live by. Like the seed that is a small source of life, as it is planted into good ground, it grows to a mature state over time. It reproduces after its own kind (Genesis 1:11-12).
Grow(th), in the original Greek language, has three meanings:
1. Auxanō – “to grow or increase”, of the growth of that which lives, naturally or spiritually.
2. Auxēsis – “increase” – Ephesians 4:16; Colossians. 2:19.
“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 (Ephesians 4:16).”
God created man in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). Further, man is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and even the very hairs on our head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30). God designed our body parts to work together in unison so that we can function at our optimum levels. The more cohesive the group, the better it works together. Similarly, we are supposed to grow together as a cohesive work group on the job without giving preference to one over another. Then, God gives the increase. As God unites Christians with Himself, Christ also brings them into a harmonious relationship with one another. This harmony is accomplished by that which every joint supplieth. The spiritual gifts mentioned in verses 7 through 15 are figuratively likened to the various “joints” or “ligaments” of the body. Christ joins believers together and unites them by the divinely ordained ministries of Christians who possess diverse spiritual gifts, which are exercised and used among believers for the common good – even at work. As such, the productivity of everyone involved increases.
“And not holding the Head, from which all the body of joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God
Working together, while acknowledging your role on the team, is what makes the whole team cohesive, dynamic, and creative. The Greek word holding means to hold fast to someone as to remain united with Christ (Head). Having nourishment ministered, and knit together means being supported and united. From Christ (Head), then, the church (body) derives spiritual growth as it is supported and untied by the various ministering believers (joints). In doing so, we increase in Him and can be the light that is so desperately needed in the workplace.
3. Huperauxanō – “to increase beyond measure”, is used of faith and love, in their living and practical effects – 2 Thessalonians 1:3.
With love as the motivating factor, you cannot fail. Because love never fails.
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth (2 Thessalonians 1:3).”
The Apostle Paul again expresses his pleasure with the spiritual growth of the intended audience. His earlier fears have been dispelled based upon the testimony of the Thessalonians. This book is Paul’s second letter to them in response to certain reports – from Timothy – that had come concerning their progress. What is significant about Paul’s message is that he saw such potential in this little church to the north that he established on his second missionary journey. During Paul’s day, Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia. His ministry in the city lasted only one month, yet this city became famous for its wealth as well as its attraction of a strange mixture of Roman high society and pagan sensuality. This influx of cultural diversities created confusion and conflicting beliefs about Jesus Christ. However, this small church’s love and faith caused growth beyond measure because it was founded on Paul’s steadfast love of Christ.
Be open to learn AND grow!
Source: Give God the Glory! Called to be Light in the Workplace, 2003 – by Kevin Wayne Johnson, Chapter 1 (Growth).