Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Pop Quiz: Who is responsible for your spiritual growth?
Think about it for a moment. Who is accountable for your sanctification?
A likely answer is that you are responsible for your spiritual growth. That would make sense right? It’s your heart that needs to grow and mature, therefore, you are accountable to ensuring that you practice the spiritual disciplines so that you can grow. If you think you are ultimately responsible for your sanctification, you are partly correct. A gracious teacher would give you half-credit for that answer.
The other half of the answer might surprise you. Yes, you are responsible for your spiritual growth. But, you know who else is? Me. Not just me as a pastor, but me as a fellow member of the body of Christ. The body is responsible for the growth of each member. That means the other believers in your Bible study or small group are accountable to help you grow.
Our fighter verse teaches that it takes iron to sharpen iron. It takes relationships that are in close proximity to sharpen one another. There is no other way around it. Each of us should ask, are there people in our church family that I am in such close relational proximity that they can sharpen me spiritually?
In his sermon on spiritual friendship, Pastor Brady mentioned another important passage about the importance of being in community.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Notice in verse 12 that the responsibility falls on each believer. “Take care…lest there be in any of you,” he says. The author is addressing each individual follower of Christ. That means God holds me accountable to pursue him and find my delight in him so that I don’t turn away in sinful unbelief. Growth must start with my desire to seek God’s grace to change. However, verse 13 takes it a step further. The author calls us to support and encourage one another daily so that we are not hardened by sin. His point is that sin is so deceptive and sneaky that if we only seek to grow on our own, we will stumble and fall. We actually need each other to help us remain steadfast in our trust that Christ is our all-satisfying treasure.
What’s my point? My point is that community is not optional. It’s not possible to be a lone ranger Christian. If you are not involved in a group of Christians who regularly share God’s Word and their lives together, your spiritual growth will be hindered. If a fellow brother in our church family is struggling with a besetting sin, it’s your responsibility—no, it’s your calling to know that he is struggling and help him fight that battle. If you don’t know you can’t help. And the only way you can know is to be investing deeply and vulnerably in each other’s lives on a regular basis. Community is an essential component of your spiritual growth.
If you are not in a small group of any kind, I encourage you to check out the small groups page on our website for more information. Also check out this inspiring video about the value of small groups.
So, who is responsible for your spiritual growth? You. Me. We.