When I was a kid, each of my siblings and I would get a roll of tape as one of our Christmas gifts. This wasn’t especially meaningful in itself – it was only a simple roll of clear plastic adhesive tape. I think that my parents just didn’t want us constantly asking to borrow the tape from the family desk. After all, we didn’t necessarily always remember to return it. And, once we had the family’s roll of tape, we probably used more than we needed for our projects. (I remember consuming most of a roll one time, “laminating” a picture I had drawn on a big sheet of tractor-feed, green-bar paper.)
Like many one-time activities, though, this simple gift turned into a family tradition. Even as we got older, a roll of tape began to be something we’d get every year for Christmas. It even became part of another tradition that we had: in order to keep us from digging into the gifts and shaking those that had our names on it, my parents would wrap each kid’s presents in a different wrapping paper, but we couldn’t tell which were ours until we were given the “key” (samples of each wrapping paper pattern with our respective names on it). Some years, that “key” was attached to our roll of tape.
One year – after I was already out of college and had a job – my wife and I were celebrating Christmas with my parents. Noticing something missing from my gifts, I asked my mom, “Hey, where’s my tape?” In return, she calmly replied, “Get your own tape”.
It was true – I was at a phase in my life where I could easily buy a box of tape dispensers at the local warehouse store, along with an accompanying box of refills. I no longer needed to have my parents provide me with tape, or keep me from overusing it by meting it out.
But this isn’t some sort of “coming of age” story, where I learned to buy tape on my own. Instead, it is a reminder that those of us who have been Christians for a while need to realize when we have reached the point where we can start to “get our own tape”; that is, we need to be able to feed ourselves and foster our own Christian growth.
At some point in our maturity in the Christian walk, we should no longer have to rely solely on others feeding us spiritually. Going to church once a week, worshiping with others, and listening to a sermon – these are a great place to start for new Christians. Furthermore, being in the company of others who share the same faith is also encouraging to mature Christians. It’s also commanded by the Bible (see Hebrews 10:23-25), so these aren’t activities that we should stop doing.
However, our Christian growth shouldn’t stop there. We should strive to get to the point where we can start “feeding ourselves”. In addition, our consumption of spiritual food should both increase, and become deeper.
Anyone who has been in – or even close to – church for a while has probably heard of the following three directives:
- Read the Bible
- Go to church
We teach these basic principles to children, and continue to emphasize their importance to adults. However, agreeing that we should do these things is not the same as doing them. Don’t be like this guy:
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish,
But will not even bring it back to his mouth.
Proverbs 19:24 NASB
Sometimes, I’m afraid that we (or, maybe it’s just me) go to church and metaphorically put our hand into a dish of food, but then don’t take the initiative to do something with the experience and education that we receive.
In addition to acting upon what we learn from a sermon or lesson, our interaction with other Christians gives us chances to live like Jesus – whether that be praying for those in need, or taking the opportunity to help others where we can.
Instead, we shouldn’t just for a preacher to tell us what to do (although God does use preachers to present timely messages). We should proactively seeking out answers to questions that we have, and supplement our spiritual “menu” with other sources of God’s word.
The next article in this series, “Get Your Own Tape”, Part 2, looks at some ways to increase our consumption of God’s Word. Or, skip ahead to Part 3, which looks at some ways to go deeper into God’s Word.