Grow or Die

  • Nicolo Paganina lived from 1782 to 1840. He was a great Italian violinist and was famous for his music. Just before his death he willed his fine violin to his home city of Genoa. However it carried with it one condition: the violin was not to ever be played. However, very finely crafted stringed instruments such as his need to be handled regularly, played, and maintained in order to keep their usefulness. However the city still honored Paganina’s request and took the violin and put it on display in the local museum. Over the years the violin has wasted away and has become nothing more than a museum piece. It is no longer in any shape to be played, but only sits on display to remind passers by of the amazing songs that once were played.

    Much like the violin, if we as Christians don’t take opportunities we are presented, then we decay spiritually. When we don’t study as we should then we won’t be ready to teach others and we won’t grow as we should spiritually. When we can only process the simplest of spiritual concepts and refuse to grow beyond them we are not growing spiritually. Hebrews 5:12-14 says, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [13] For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [14] But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Growing spiritually requires more than just reading the word of God. It requires a true study of truth AND the application of that truth as well. Growing spiritually requires that we make changes in our lives, that we become stronger spiritually, that we seek to be more like God and more separate from the world with each passing day. When we stop growing spiritually, then we like the violin begin to decay.

    When we don’t help others as we should, then we are not fulfilling our spiritual responsibility and we are decaying spiritually. We as Christians have a responsibility to help those have been overtaken with sin. Galatians 6:1-2 says, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. [2] Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." This is to be done in meekness as our goal is not to beat down another Christian who has messed up, but rather our goal is to pull them back to doing right so that their soul is once again right with God. James 5:20 tells us that when we convert a sinner from error that we save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. James 5:20 says, "Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." We have great potential to help others out of their sin and to save souls (ours and theirs). Yet when we fail to fulfil this responsibility that we have as Christians, we decay spiritually.

    We also have a responsibility to teach the lost. There are those in the world who don’t know Christ and are lost without Him. We are to lead them to the truth both by the way we live (Matthew 5:16) and by what we say (1 Peter 3:15). We are almost daily presented with opportunities to teach the lost and lead them to the truth. Many know they are lost and simply don’t want to change however we can still sometimes have an influence on them. Some are lost and don’t even know that they are lost. For these people, we must first convince them that they are lost before they will ever see a need to make changes in their lives. I believe this category makes up the majority of the world. Then there are also those who know they are lost, but they don’t know what to do. These are those who are seeking truth but haven't found it yet. These are people who ask us questions, who want to know more, and who are curious about truth.

    We are like the violin as Christians. We have been given these great responsibilities to grow, to strengthen others, and to teach the lost. When we fail to fulfil these responsibilities we begin to decay spiritually. When we fail to grow in these areas we will eventually decay to the point that we are just a shell. We might still have somewhat of an appearance of a Christian, but we are not at all fulfilling the responsibility of a Christian. We have stopped producing fruit as we are commanded to and we will be cut off, cast away and burned (John 15). Let us never forget why we are here and what our purpose is as Christians. Let us seek to use our skills as a Christian, to hone them, to grow in our abilities to help and teach others so that as we grow spiritually we also save others from spiritual death!