To “Grow Up” in Christ, You Must “Grow Down”

The Bible shows us over and over that the life of the Christian must be characterized by growth:

  • Psalm 92:12: The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:6: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the grow
  • Ephesians 2:21: The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord.
  • Ephesians 4:13: … until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
  • Ephesians 4:15: But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.
  • Philippians 1:9: And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment…
  • Colossians 1:10: … so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.
  • 1 Peter 2:2: Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation …
  • 1 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

In other words, all of us who are in Christ are on the move. We are changing. We are growing, and we are growing up in Christ. That is, we are daily being conformed more and more into the image of the Son of God.

But if we are to “grow up” in Christ, we must also “grow down.”

That’s simple enough, right? And there are certain things that come to mind when we consider these twin truths. If we are to grow up in holiness, we must grow down in our willingness to sin. If we are to grow up in hope, we must grow down in our momentary pleasure. If we are to grow up in faith, we must grow down in our fear.

But then there are other areas that might not come to mind as quickly if we are to grow up in Christ:

  • We must grow down in complexity and grow up in simplicity.
  • We must grow down in self-reliance and grow up in dependence.
  • We must grow down in privacy and grow up in authenticity.
  • We must grow down in anxiety and grow up in trust.
  • We must grow down in apathy and grow up in passion.

All these things we must grow down in? Well, these are things that all of us as regular adults have come to embrace as part of our lives. Over the years, experience, pain, hardship, and sin have beaten out all the simplicity, authenticity, trust, and passion that come to us so naturally as children.

One lens through which you can view our road to spiritual maturity, then, is that we are on the road back to becoming like children. We are growing down at the same time we are growing up. The words of Jesus still ring so true:

“Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 10:17).

My new book, available for pre-order now, is built on this idea. It’s called Growing Down: Unlearning the Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from Jesus.

I’d love for you to order a copy and come with me on this road of discovering how we become like children so that we might grow up in Jesus.

Order at:


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