Growing in the Lord
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
was a young boy, I couldn’t wait to grow physically. At each phase of my
early life, I wanted desperately to have the physical maturity to compete in
sports at the next level.with the big boys! And even while I was at one
particular point of growth, I exercised daily to develop my body to compete in
sports at the next level.
other hand, when it came to growing in the mental area, I wasn’t quite as
motivated. My parents didn’t have much formal education, so they were
happy with whatever I accomplished in school. Surprisingly enough, with all of
my efforts to succeed in the physical area, I ended up excelling in school in
the mental arena.
there was the spiritual area of my life. I would like to report that my
spiritual growth, which started when I was just six years old, was a
magnificent upward spiral, and that it had few, if any, valleys. But no. Sad to
say, my spiritual growth in those early years was an up-and-down roller
coaster. And the downward drop on that roller coaster continued on into my
early adult life and had a serious effect on my marriage.
share more about my spiritual growth and the how to’s of growing in the
Lord throughout this chapter, but for now, I want to make the statement (and
I’m sure you will agree) that spiritual growth takes even more effort
than physical growth.
true that spiritual development takes terrific effort. But, my friend,
it’s also true that the rewards are great, especially when it comes to
being a husband.and that’s what this book is all about. I want us to
note how growing in the Lord occurs, and how that growth gives essential help
for you and me for our life in general and our marriage and family in
this in mind as you read: No matter how old you are or how long––or
short!––you’ve been married, the day you accelerate your
growth in the Lord is the day your marriage is positively impacted, improved,
you’re like most men and husbands, you’re probably extremely busy.
You’re out there in the world every day, working and slaving away. Then,
when you get home, more work awaits you—the work of taking care of your
home and finances. And if you have children, you get home only to switch hats
and try to be a good dad. With all these responsibilities, it’s easy to
conclude that there just isn’t any time for growing spiritually.
new friend, that’s why we want to start our study of what it means to be A Husband After God’s Own Heart with
this most strategic topic. Why?
Spiritual growth determines priorities. Spiritual
growth is the key to all that’s important in your life. That’s what
Jesus meant 2000 years ago when He told a listening audience not to be anxious
about life and living. He said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall
we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we
wear?’ ” (Matthew 6:31). These things are definitely needful, but
they are not what’s really important. They are not your first priority.
What is really important is your spiritual
growth. Why? Jesus went on to say that instead of worrying about the
necessities of daily life, you should “seek first the kingdom
of God and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added to you” (verse 33). In other words, you are to seek a life of spiritual growth
and following after God’s priorities for your life. Then, friend, God will provide for you and your family.
That’s God’s promise! Seek God.and have everything! Seek the
world.and lose everything (Luke 9:25). The right choice seems pretty obvious,
Put first things first
and we get second things thrown in:
Put second things first
and we lose both first and second things.
Spiritual growth promotes purity. Besides
determining a man’s priorities, spiritual growth also promises help in
the area of purity. In Psalm 119:9 the psalmist asked the question, “How
can a young man keep his way pure?” (NASB). Of all the questions men ask me, most of them deal
with the area of purity. With all that is going on in our world today,
Christian men are having a hard time staying pure, thinking pure thoughts, and
developing pure habits.
is not new. Temptation and sin have been around since the beginning of history.
God knows the struggles we face. In fact, God faced those same issues firsthand
in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:17-18). And God says we can have victory. How? In the psalm I just shared, the psalmist
answered his question on purity in the same verse with this advice, “By
taking heed according to Your word” (verse 9). Victory is ours if and
when we heed God and His Word. So spiritual growth— through prayer, study
of the Bible, and obedience—is the answer. Again, the psalmist follows up
his earlier question of purity with this answer: “With my whole heart I
have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have
hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:10-11).
struggle with purity? If so, you are not alone. The Bible says that temptations
are “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). No man is immune to sexual temptation or a myriad of other kinds of temptations (verse 12).
But there’s hope!
on in 1 Corinthians 10, the Bible reports that God has provided a way of escape
(verse 13). And what is the way of escape? Answer: Growing in the Lord and His
grace! The process of growing in the Lord exposes us to the spiritual resources
that we have been given to fight the battle and gain the victory in the areas
of our struggle, whether it’s with physical temptations like lust, or
with other kinds of temptations like pride, greed, or anger.
not be like the rich man I read about in the newspaper who died of starvation.
He had all the resources needed to live well, but he was too stingy to use some
of those resources and therefore starved to death. God has provided the
resources for you, my friend. Make it your business to find out what those
resources are. Then use them to gain the victory in the battle for purity.
Spiritual growth produces discernment. As
we move through this book, I will talk constantly about
leadership––leadership as a husband, leadership as a parent,
leadership in the many areas of your life. God’s husband knows where he
is going. God’s husband also knows how to get there, and he is able to
guide his wife and children. How is this possible? Because God’s kind of
husband has God’s wisdom and discernment.
does a Christian man get this wisdom and discernment? I think you know the
answer––from God’s Word. And why is spiritual wisdom
important? “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the
cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). Our wives,
our families, and our churches need godly men who have
discernment––discernment to deal with life and life-issues on a
spiritual level. That maturity comes as we grow in “the knowledge of the
Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of
Christ” (verse 13). Such maturity is called Christlikeness, which means to live and act as Christ lived
Growing in the Lord is essential for becoming a man
of right priorities, a man of purity, and a man of
do we need discernment for understanding the Bible, but we also need wisdom for
the everyday decisions we must make as husbands, fathers, employees, and
employers. Again, spiritual maturity is the answer. The writer to a group of
Jewish Christians in the first century laments over their lack of growth. Hear
though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you
again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need
milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in
the word of righteousness, for he is a babe (Hebrews 5:12-13).
speaking to you and me today through this same text, and He is just as
concerned today with our maturity as He was 2000 years ago with those readers.
We as Christian husbands need to be teachers of spiritual things—if not
verbally, then at least with our lives.
one remedy a lack of maturity? How does one gain the maturity needed to make
wise and godly decisions?
inspired writer goes on again to give us the answer:
food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (verse 14).
in the Lord is essential for becoming a man of right priorities, a man of
purity, and a man of spiritual perception. I pray that you have long ago
recognized this fact and are well on your way along the road to maturity. When
I think of you, I feel like the apostle John when he wrote to his readers,
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”
(3 John 4). But if you haven’t been aware of your need to grow in the
Lord, I hope and pray that you have at least had your eyes opened to the
absolute necessity of spiritual growth.
One of my
favorite men of the Old Testament is Joshua. Why him? Well, he was a great man
who made the right choices in important decisions throughout his lifetime. For
· Joshua was a man of great humility. He made a
decision early on in his life to nurture the heart of a servant. How could he
not be humble? After all, he was Moses’ understudy for 40 years. This was
the Moses whom God described as “very humble, more than all men who were
on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). And Joshua was called the
servant of Moses (Numbers 11:28).
· Joshua was a man of great courage. Talk about
“peer pressure”! Joshua made a decision to go against popular
opinion and, along with Caleb, gave a positive report about the Promised Land
that the Israelites were told to enter, giants and all (Numbers 14:6-9)!
· Joshua was a man of great faith. He made a decision
to trust in God’s ability to defeat the people inhabiting the Promised
Land. Ten of the men who were sent to spy out the land came back with stories
of “giants” and pictured themselves as “grasshoppers”
next to these giants. Joshua and Caleb, however, had faith in God and declared,
“If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and
give it to us” (Numbers 14:8)! Joshua’s decision, shared by Caleb,
earned them the privilege of being the only men of their generation to enter
the Promised Land. All the others had weak faith and chose poorly. God reports
that Joshua “wholly followed the LORD” (Numbers 32:12).
· Joshua was a man of great integrity. Even toward
the end of his long life of service, Joshua was still making decisions for
himself and for his family to serve the Lord, and not the false gods that
surrounded them. And with the strength of his great faith, he called others to
commit themselves to the same standard as well. Joshua exhorted, “Choose
for yourself this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
you can see why Joshua was such a key figure in the Old Testament and why I
admire him so much. He was constantly making the hard
decisions––the right decisions––decisions to serve God
and not follow after the world and its allurements.
You and I
need to respond to Joshua’s challenge to “choose today whom you
will serve.” And don’t fail to notice that Joshua, as the leader of
a nation, included his family in his commitment: “As for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD”
(verse 15). My friend, Joshua’s resolve needs to be ours as well. Again,
growing in the Lord will help strengthen your resolve to be a godly husband who
will stand up in the midst of an evil society and declare his commitment to
lead his family away from the world, toward God, and into service to God.
Perhaps this is a good time to ask God to give you Joshua’s resolve as
you read my personal prayer of commitment. May it be yours as well!
in heaven—the God who blessed Joshua for the decisions he made to honor
and follow You—may this be a new beginning for me. May I resolve that, as
of today, my life will better reflect Thee.that I will seek Your
righteousness with my whole heart.that I will make a daily commitment to grow
in my relationship with Your Son, my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear Lord,
my desire is to be a husband who leads by example, loves sacrificially, and
serves selflessly. May I become a husband after Your own heart. Amen.
recently read a quip that suggested, “If you don’t like what you
are reaping, change what you are sowing.” Perhaps you know that some
things aren’t quite right in your home. You know that somehow your
spiritual growth (or lack thereof) is connected with what’s not quite
right in your life and marriage. But, with all the pressures of family and job,
you can’t seem to “fit in” growing in the Lord. So you
just described my life in years past. I was sowing selfishness and personal
gratification. I was living a life of personal ambition. My goal was to be a
highly successful executive for a big company. I was off doing my own thing, and,
believe me, God was not part of the equation! And my life and my marriage were
reaping frustration and disappointment. My wife was even on the verge of
a change came. By God’s grace, we became a Christian couple. Ours became
a Christian marriage. With God’s help I began to change what I was
sowing, so to speak. And I have to say, it wasn’t easy. One day I would sow a bag of good seed. The next day the bag was full of bad
seed. But I desired to grow, and I sought help. I found men who could disciple
me and show me what it means to be a husband after God’s own heart.
Slowly I stopped living a life of selfishness and personal gratification and
started to more and more consistently live for Jesus Christ. As I was growing
in the Lord and learning how to love my wife, God began to bless. And He
blessed, as Ephesians 3:20 says, “exceedingly
abundantly above all that we ask or think”!
God will bless you and your marriage when you
follow His blueprint.
is a great invention of God. And a marriage where the husband desires to love
his wife as Christ loved the church is a true witness to the reality of the
Christian faith. But a marriage that honors Jesus Christ is not easy to come
by. If you want this kind of marriage, then, like me, you are going to have to
work at it.
to bless you and your marriage. And, brother, God will bless you and your
marriage when you follow His blueprint. I trust you have made some significant
commitments while reading this chapter. And I pray you have committed to
growing in the Lord. That’s where you and I must start. It will require
work, but oh, the blessings that await you!
or may not have read my book A Man After
God’s Own Heart, but in that book I constantly challenge the
man reading it to check his heart. The title of that book was taken from
God’s description of King David as found in Acts 13:22. David
wasn’t always the man he should have been, but deep down in his heart,
God could see that he had a desire to follow after Him.
going to now pick up where I left off in A
Man After God’s Own Heart and ask that same question again. How’s your heart? Do you truly want
to grow spiritually? Do you want to follow God and His commands for your life?
These are hard questions, but they must be asked.and they must be answered.
It’s critical right now to stop and answer. Is your answer yes or no?
want to say yes, but perhaps you are thinking, I
can’t live that kind of perfect life! I’ve tried, and I end up
stumbling and falling. I can’t be perfect. Well, brother,
relax! I’m not talking about perfection. David wasn’t perfect, and
I’m not perfect. In fact, no man is perfect (Romans 3:23). The only man
who was perfect is Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Hebrews 4:15). No, what I am
talking about is progression. Yes, like David, you and I stumble and fall at
times. Yet God’s man––God’s husband––gets
up off the deck when he’s fallen, seeks forgiveness, and moves on. Even
though you might go two steps forward and one step back, that’s still
progression! And that’s spiritual growth!
again, how’s your heart? I believe you do have a heart for God and the
things of God. And I believe you want to be a husband after God’s own
heart. I know I do. So together, let’s keep moving through this book. And
together, let’s keep growing spiritually so we too can grow to “the
measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
next several pages we are going to continue looking at this vital topic of
growing in the Lord as we consider the “little things” you and I
can do that will make a big difference in our marriage, but for now,
grow in the Lord,
you grow in your ability to be a godly husband,
you grow in your ability to be
a godly parent,
grow in your ability to lead.
Seek first the kingdom of God and
and all these things shall be added to you.
Things That Make a Big Difference
1. Read your Bible every day.
been calculated that if you read your Bible just ten minutes a day, you will
read through it in one year. So decide on a time. Then pick a place. Start in
Genesis 1:1 or Matthew 1:1. It doesn’t matter where you start.as long
as you start! The idea is to regularly and systematically read through your
Bible. No other book can claim to be “living and powerful.a discerner
of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Allow God to
work in your life and marriage as you read and meditate on His Word.
2. Go to church every week.
this isn’t such a “little” thing because church is such a big
part of the Christian life. Church is where you and your family can corporately
worship God, learn biblical truth from gifted pastors and teachers, fellowship
with other believers and couples, and minister your spiritual gifts. It’s
true you can worship God anywhere, but God has established the church so that
we would worship Him somewhere (Hebrews 10:25). If you can make it to work five
days a week, why can’t you make it to church one day each week?
3. Visit a Christian bookstore.
before you go into your local Christian bookstore, to show you which books
would be helpful to you at this stage of your life and marriage. Then walk in
and ask directions to the men’s section for yourself and the marriage
section for your marriage. Browse through the titles and prayerfully select
those that attract your interest. Also, maybe it’s time to upgrade your
Bible with a study Bible that has explanatory notes in it. Or, if you have
trouble understanding the language of your present Bible, find a translation
that is a little more reader-friendly.
4. Seek out a mentor.
you’ve ever had a personal trainer or coach, you know how helpful it was
in your physical or business training. Well, a discipler or mentor can be just
as helpful in your spiritual training. You know you should be growing
spiritually, you know you should be improving in your marriage, but you are not
quite sure how to get the job done. A mentor can help. Find someone who has
gone before you, who is wise and mature in the things of the Lord and can help
intensify your training as a Christian and as a husband. Remember, “Iron
sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17 NASB).
5. Sign up for a Bible class or Bible study.
given “pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints” in
the church (Ephesians 4:11).
are gifted by God’s Spirit and have studied and prepared to teach
God’s Word and assist you in your growth. Usually the size of a study
group or class is small, which is less intimidating and gives you more freedom
to ask questions. And to make your participation even more beneficial, why
don’t you and your wife sign up for a couples Bible class or Bible study
6. Pray for your wife.
a spiritual discipline. When you pray, you are acknowledging that God is an
active participant in your life. Taking time each day to pray will strengthen
your spiritual life, which, in turn, will strengthen your marriage and have its
greatest impact on your wife.
you will agree your wife is a busy lady. She wears a myriad of hats. She has a
multitude of roles and responsibilities. And she is the major reason for any
good thing that is happening in your life. So why shouldn’t you pray for
the growth, protection, and purity of the most special person in your life?
Other than a godly mother, mother-in-law, or aunt, you might be the only person
on the face of this earth who is praying regularly for your precious wife. Ask
her for a photo. Then place it on your desk at work or near your computer.
Whenever your eye catches a glimpse of her smiling face, remember to shoot up a
prayer for whatever you know she is doing about that time of day.
Excerpted from A Husband After
God’s Own Heart By Jim George. Copyright © 2004 by Harvest
House Publishers. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this
excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the