Development in the Christian Life

Consider the birds how they develop

There are three stages in bird life that illustrate well the normal development of the Christian life.
1. The little bird only opens its mouth for food: feeding is its one simple occupation.
2. Its feathers and wings grow and it flies and sings.
3. It builds its nest and cares for its young.

Food is the first necessity of its life, and for this it is dependent upon others, but as it feeds it gains strength, and becomes fit for the air, its true element, and it flies. I believe that no bird sings until it flies. But until it builds its nest it is alone, no matter how strong its wing or brilliant its song; it selects its food but it is only for itself, but when it builds its nest where its young may be reared its habits and character undergo a change; it does not surrender its former powers, but instead of contenting itself with its own peculiar and perhaps selfish satisfaction, it devotes itself to objects outside itself, objects dear as its own life and it shapes itself always to the good of the objects of its love.

Now consider the Christian life.

1. As a new-born babe the Christian desires the Word of God, only by it can his soul be fed, only by it can he grow. 1 Peter 2:1 makes this very plain and every Christian knows it by his own experience. Why are there so many half fledged Christians? because they have not been fed upon God's Word. And who is responsible for this? Well it may be that some who have been called of the Lord to feed His own are neglecting to do it. Some have their own aviaries, and are very diligent in feeding their caged birds and do not think of all the saints, to change the simile, they have not entered into the meaning of Paul's words to the elders of Ephesus, "Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He has purchased with His own blood." Anyhow the Holy Ghost does not fail, and He delights to present Christ and His grace to the new born, if the desire for food is there, it will not be disappointed. Oh, let us pray earnestly for greater spiritual desires.

2. As the new-born babe feeds upon the Word he is possessed by soul aspirations after heavenly things where Christ sits; he feels that heaven is his sphere; moreover he realises that power has been given to him to rise up into this new sphere, above earthly things. This power lies in the Holy Spirit of God that dwells in all who have believed the gospel. He sets his affections on things above where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and he can spread his wings and rise up into the enjoyment of those things, and as he does so he sings, he pours out the satisfaction and joy of his heart in melody to the Lord. This twofold exercise of power and joy is found in Colossians 3:2 and 16. This is the development of Christian life, indeed.

3. Then be begins to care for others. He learns that Christ has His interests in the world. That there are others as dear to his Lord and Saviour as he is, that he is united to them in one life, derived from one source and Head, the living Lord in the glory. He cannot ignore these; no longer can he look upon himself as a unit, gathering food for himself and enjoying at alone. He must have fellowship with others, he must now live a community life, and love those whom Christ loves, and care for them and feed them as he has opportunity. This comes out in great fullness in the Apostle's words, "I endure all things for the elect's sake that they may obtain salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2). It is pressed upon us all very strongly in John's first Epistle. None of us lives to himself.

Thus we have the heart fed, nourished and satisfied with Christ, and able in the power of the Spirit to rise above depressing earthly circumstances and the allurements of the world to the heavenly things of which Christ is the Centre, and delivered from self-occupation, are able to care for Christ's interests on earth, moved thereto by the love of Christ, that made Him lay down His life for all His own. May we all be well acquainted with this threefold blessedness for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.