You are either Growing or Dying

If you are not Growing, then you are Dying

Having had the privilege over the years to teach, preach, minister, and travel here in the States, multiple countries, and in various kinds of churches, you do learn a few things. You see patterns of the same truths prevalent no matter how different the church structure, culture, or age may be. I have noticed these truths, no matter the background, these truths seem to enable a person to grow in their walk with the Lord. These truths also seem, if they are not applied in one’s life, to hold them back. Yet, if understood and applied to their lives properly, their spiritual man thrives. 

Growth is a fundamental which should always be happening in a Christian’s life. Since the goal is to be like Jesus, then none of us are able to say they have arrived and display the perfect example of Christ. Everyone has room to grow and mature toward His image. We should always be growing, if we are not growing then we are dying.

The following are principles I have seen, which hopefully, will help in a person’s journey of growth. Now I am not saying these are the only ones, but these are definitely worth examining in your life as you pursue continued growth to be like Him.

I title these, First Things First Principles. These will help a person check themselves on their personal growth with Jesus.  


Absolutely nothing can happen or grow without faith. Our start and eventually our finish is all based on our faith in Christ. It’s so important to keep our faith growing. We should always learn and grow in our faith with God. Do all you can to keep faith moving progressively forward, even if it’s just baby steps.  In our walk with Jesus our faith should always be increasing. It does not matter if you are new to the Christian faith or have been around for years,  always be thinking and acting on your faith, and take the necessary steps to grow in your faith. Never, ever let go of your faith. Four areas that serve as a gauge to check your faith are; Thoughts, what we think on, and are we thinking right? Speech, what do we let come out of our mouths, is it positive or negative? His Words, are they still the standard of absolute truth, which we hold onto and stand on as solid ground? Actions, do our actions line up and reflect faith in God? Continually evaluate your faith, never fear checking yourself, are you still believing everything with a radical passion for Jesus? Has your faith grown this past year? 

‭Galatians 2:20.  [20] I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. NIV

‭1 John 5:4  [4] For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God]. AMP

‭2 Thessalonians 1:3 [3] We feel a personal responsibility to continually be thanking God for you, our spiritual family,  every time we pray. And we have every reason to do so because your faith is growing marvelously beyond measure. The unselfish love each of you share for one another is increasing and overflowing. TPT

2. Take Responsibility, for all aspects of your life in every area. Make No excuses, none, not one, do not give yourself any room to excuse yourself. You are not a victim, refuse to have excuses. Even if something happened to you beyond your control, refuse to stay a victim.  Work on any area to get past whatever happened. Take control of your life. There may be reasons and good reasons but do not let them become excuses for your life, and no blame shifting,  take full and total responsibility for yourself. Remember, this is your only life, don’t live by excusing away things and just holding onto them year after year. Taking responsibility for the life you have been given is a privilege, and a reward. Never fear taking ownership of your life. It matters what you believe about yourself. So take charge and do whatever is necessary to get rid of anything you are using to excuse yourself. 


3. Resist the Devil

We, as Christians, are to always, (always, always), resist the devil, always. I cannot emphasize this enough.  You must be aware of his schemes, which are to devour, steal, kill, and ultimately destroy you, so resist him. Never let your guard down and forget his one and only existence is to diminish your faith in God. The devil wants to weaken it and eventually take you away from believing. 

‭James 4:7 AMP‬  [7] So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you. 

‭James 4:7 TPT   ‬[7] So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will flee in agony.   

Refuse to stay weak in any area of your life where the devil has had the upper hand. Resist the devil, and keep resisting till you have the victory.  The devil does not have another plan. So neither should you. 

Next principle goes hand and hand with this thinking and is probably the number one area the devil works his greatest plot against a person.

4. Forgiveness.  

As a minister for over 40 years, it still amazes me what people will hold on to. Some will hold onto things for years. They stay hurt and bitter with what happened in the past, usually never realizing it only affects them. It holds them back from living life to its fullest. As stated in #8 and #7, the past is past, be extremely grateful for what you have now. Do what you need to do to release forgiveness. Examine and check out these 4 areas to make sure you have a clear and whole heart. 1. Know, without any doubt, God Forgives you.  He not only forgives you but releases and forgets. 2. Did you truly receive forgiveness? Many know God forgives but have never felt released because they didn’t think they were worthy and so did not receive His forgiveness. 3. Forgive others. This is very important. We must do whatever it takes to forgive others. Do not hold onto any resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness toward others. This doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you, however you still need to forgive. Jesus is the greatest example of forgiveness.  Ask for God’s help and let it go. 4. Forgive yourself, too many feel they have to earn it, so they inflict a form of self punishment on themselves. Again, God almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, King of all, forgave you, therefore  you need to forgive yourself.

5.  Quit limiting yourself. With Jesus you can do all things. Take the limits off yourself. The question to ask yourself is are you truly free to be yourself, the self God created you to be, or do you have self imposed boundaries? Are there areas in your life you do not push past to improve for whatever reasons? Some will say I’m just not good at that or I’m just not gifted in that, but did Jesus asked you to do it, then you can do it! You should be free to do all Jesus calls you to do. Do not fear the things you do not feel comfortable doing. 

Understanding our individuality, the individual self God wants us to be is so important. God wants to use the real you, the genuine you. He knows who you are and what you’re capable of doing. This is all part of how He grows His Kingdom. God made you an original. He created you different from everyone else to be used and contribute your uniqueness in His Kingdom. 

Think of it this way, God’s world is a gigantic picture and we get to paint in it. Every true artist has his or her unique style which distinguishes them, sets them apart from other artists. God wants you to add certain brush strokes to His painting. You get to paint in God’s living picture of His Kingdom here on earth. We get to leave our unique brush strokes, flair, and our personality in this painting if we want, but not if we limit ourselves. 

He has never created anyone like you and never will. You are totally and completely unique and He wants to use your distinctive thumb print in the progressive advancement of His Kingdom here on earth. At this time in history He wants to call on you to do whatever He asks of you, to leave your mark in His history,  because He sees you are the one to do it and with Him you can. 

‭Ephesians 2:10 AMP‬.  [10] For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

‭Ephesians 2:10 TPT‬. [10] We have become his poetry,  a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works  we would do to fulfill it! 

When people were surveyed at the end of their lives, one major regret they had was they didn’t feel they were true to themselves. They limited themselves. They put the limits on what they did, and said they couldn’t do this or that and so they never tried. They let the world around them tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. They let fears or others’ expectations tell them who they should be, and never really felt free to be themselves. In shrinking back they set borders, boundaries, limits, and quit trying to be themselves. They stunted their own growth and in doing so never went past these self imposed limits. They limit their own true self. However the good news is right now, anyone can break past these limits and do everything Jesus is asking of them. 

It’s never too late, with Jesus, to take the limits off of yourself and start painting in His picture.  You must set yourself free and trust Him to do the work in your life He created you to do. He wants to use you, the you He created, the true self you have always desired to be. 

This means do not be afraid of new things or of failing the first time you decide to move past your comfort zone. If you try to do something by breaking past your self imposed boundaries and fail, this is still progress. Get up, brush yourself off, laugh it off and tell yourself how liberating that felt to try. Now, do it again and again till you have what you are trying for, this is true freedom. 

Do not fear failure, it’s the path of freedom if we do not quit and give up. Have zero tolerance for accepting failure. You cannot not fear this, and you cannot stay there either, you are going to make mistakes at times, You will fail at times, “so what” get up and go after it again and again. Never quit trying to be all God has called you to be.

6. Take the initiative to think ahead. If it needs to be done then go ahead and do it. Don’t wait to be told to do it especially if you see it needs done.  Don’t wait for someone to hold your hand. So many people just sit around waiting to be told what, when, and how to do something and If this doesn’t happen then nothing gets done. 

Initiative is willing to take action. It is  that first step toward getting something done. It’s to move forward progressively without being told what to do. However, not in an arrogant way as if you know and nobody else does or you’re the only one that can do it.

 Initiative will always create a path of growth.  A person with initiative matures and spiritually grows. People who think ahead and take initiative stand out and others are usually willing to follow them. 

7. Live with Jesus today. Ask Him, what can I do for you today? What can I do to follow you as close as I can, today?  The past is gone. Dump it and let it go as fast as you can. The past does not exist anymore unless you allow it and decide to live there instead of living for today. Do all that is necessary to forget it and live with the ever present Christ, today.

 Look to move forward-don’t ever look back-this doesn’t mean we cannot learn from the past or from what has already happened by  applying it to forward progress. 

Progress is progress and victory is victory no matter how small as long as you keep it and look at what’s next in moving forward from there. Even if it’s small baby steps you are moving forward, it doesn’t matter what others think about your progress and don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s.  Focus on today, and refuse to listen to yesterday’s faults, flaws, mistakes, failures or hurts. Do whatever it takes to get past them.

‭Philippians 3:12-13 TPT‬.  [12] I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose for which Christ Jesus laid hold of me to make me his own. [13] I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this;  however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. 

‭Philippians 3:13 NIV‬. [13] Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 

Image, image, image. Never stop striving to be more like Jesus,Everyday”. Conforming to His image is every Christian’s goal, to mature and be like Him in every way. Do not stop growing. Learn to hear His voice, to communicate with Him, to talk to Him and listen as He talks back to you. 

Get past yourself, maybe even get over yourself. This is part of being His disciple. You must die to self, and pick up His image. Ask yourself, and be ruthlessly honest, do I have a healthy self image or am I still plagued by insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, nobody caring, or not measuring up, then you need to get over yourself. Get past this and take up His image. This is where the adventure begins and  this is where life truly takes off for you.  Keep Jesus’ image as your standard. To be like Him in every way, every day. Live for Jesus today, forgetting the past. 

8. Be Extremely Grateful. Always, always giving thanks to God and anyone else for what they have done for you. There is always something you can be thankful for. Willfully practice this. Go over and above in saying thank you and showing a genuine, grateful heart. It is one of the most liberating principles to engage in everyday. This type of practice will keep you free from so much baggage.

‭Ephesians 5:20 AMP‬.  [20] always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 

‭Ephesians 5:20 TPT‬.  [20] Always give thanks to Father God for every person   he brings into your life in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

9. Always be ready to expand the picture of God’s Kingdom for others, don’t let these opportunities go by. Never pass up an opportunity to give away from yourself in serving someone. This is sowing your life and scripture teaches us this is where you find true life. Train yourself to look for opportunities, willfully seek them out, and give of your life. Look to sow, continually practice being generous with your life, this doesn’t necessarily mean giving money, although that’s part of it. It means giving of your time, energy, and other resources, which are all part of sowing your life. Sow your life into the building up of someone else’s life. 

In Conclusion

If you are not growing then you are dying. Evaluate yourself with these and be honest as to where you can improve to keep growing to fulfill all He wants of you. What areas do you need to challenge yourself in? Then challenge yourself. Tell yourself you want to paint for Him. “I want all of Christ and I want to be free to be the Person He knows and wants me to be!”