Question: What things can keep a new believer from spiritual growth?
Answer: Just as any living thing needs nurture, new believers need spiritual nurture. This includes a body of believers who accept and love this person, Biblical instruction that shows a new believer how to live before God and in God’s strength, and appropriate correction when the new believer makes mistakes. This would be comparable to a new sapling getting shelter, food and pruning. It needs the proper environment, one of safety, to keep it from experiencing conditions too severe for it’s undeveloped state. It needs nutrition as building blocks of growth. And it needs damaged or diseased portions removed so as not to stop healthy growth. Paul describes his treatment of the new Thessalonian believers as being “gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children,” sharing “not only the gospel of God but our lives as well,” “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:7,11,12).
The things that can keep a new believer from growth are the absence of such nurture, putting them into positions of responsibility before they are mature enough to handle them, isolation from other believers, and life-controlling issues that do not immediately drop off when they come to faith in Christ. Jesus describes shallow roots, troubles and persecution, and the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth as hindrances to growth (Matthew 13:18-23).
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