Sunday School Lessons

Why Grow?

Continuing on with the premise that following Jesus Christ isn’t meant to be a one-time event, but rather a change for life, let’s continue in Hebrews 6.

Like the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:1-15), which actually seems to be about the soils’ response to the seed, I’m pretty sure that we’re the land in the following passage from Hebrews.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Hebrews 6:7‭-‬8 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.6.7-8.NIV

God gives us the offer of salvation, along with blessings in this life and the next.  Our role is to glorify Him, and to make use of what He gives us for His purposes.

If we turn to God (even if we previously lived in our own sins), then we start to become more like the land that is productive.  As one commentary [Asbury] wrote, “In the divine scheme, blessing produces further blessing”.

Sometimes, we think about growing in our Christian walk as the process of getting better ourselves.  That is, as we learn and practice more about Jesus, we become more holy and righteous in our mind, heart, and actions.  In this sense, growing is becoming “better” (like a healthy plant grows up and gets bigger).

I agree that this process (i.e., “sanctification”) is important, but through examples like this one from Hebrews (and the parable referenced above), it appears that growing isn’t only about ourselves and our personal growth.  It also includes producing results, like good soil allows plants to mature and produce seed for more plants.  Said another way, we aren’t called to just grow decorative plants from God’s provisions for us.  Increasing our Biblical knowledge and doing better at “not sinning” are good goals, but they aren’t the extent of God’s expectations for us.  Beyond these things, we are called to help other people find God (through Jesus Christ), and to help them also become disciples: hopefully, productive disciples.

On the other hand, if we have been blessed (which we have), and keep all of that to ourselves (like a baby just letting other people do all of the work), we’re being pretty selfish.  However, this passage seems to be saying even more than that: notice that the second kind of land doesn’t just “not produce vegetation”, it actually produces weeds!

If we continue to live a life away from God, ignoring (or rejecting) the “elementary” topics mentioned earlier in this chapter of Hebrews, continuing to focus only on ourselves and our selfish desires, and producing only sinful results, that’s pretty ungrateful, and it shows no respect for the God who gives us our very lives.

I’d like to further consider this comparison in the context of those who have chosen to follow God in faith, versus those who have openly decided to follow something else (whether the god of money, pride, fame, or something else that they expect to save them).

  • Those whose lives are structured around God (living in gratitude for His salvation) bring glory to Him.  They may stumble, or even get stuck in sins that they can’t seem to break free from, but they have acknowledged that God is sustaining and nurturing them.
  • Those whose lives are structured around something else (i.e., something inferior to God) produce results that might sometimes look like good things, but which are ultimately opposed to having a healthy relationship with the God of the universe.  They may glorify themselves or others, but they don’t bring glory to God.

Remember, the fruit that we bear – the results of our decisions and actions – is the output of what is in us, not things that we do externally to change our heart.  (See Romans 8:6-8)  Similarly, it seems that “falling away” or apostasy is something that happens in the heart, and the weeds that grow out of a life that makes this choice are the unpleasant – but logical – outcome.

Let’s think back to where this section started (see Hebrews 5:11-14), where the author seemed frustrated that the recipients didn’t understand the basics.  Whether the principles in chapter 6 are more of those basics, or some more advanced principles, I think that the message is the same: We aren’t saved just to sit.  We aren’t blessed just to bask in good things.  Like good soil, we are called to produce something with our new lives in Jesus Christ.  And, if we aren’t doing so, I think that today is a good day to start.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for November 14, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, November 14, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.
  • Asbury Bible Commentary. Copyright © 1992 by The Zondervan Corporation, via BibleGateway.com.

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