THE NEED FOR THE GROWTH IN LIFE
However, there is still the need for the growth in life. After speaking of so many things in chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul tells us to desire the greater gifts. Then he says that he will show us the most excellent way. The most excellent way to practice the gifts is the way of love. The way of love is the way of life, for love is the expression of life.
As we have seen, speaking in tongues, miracles, and healings may become childish things. It all depends upon the measure of the growth in life found in the practice of these gifts. As my grandson was reading John chapter one, he was being very playful. But I did not condemn him. On the contrary, I was happy. But if one of the elders would read John 1 in such a playful manner, I would be exceedingly displeased. In the Body life we need the growth in life, and we need to function in the growth of life. Although I like to see the young ones functioning in a playful way in the meetings, I would be displeased to see the older ones functioning in this way. If you do not have the growth in life, it will be impossible for you not to play. Because your age is the age of playing with toys, there will be no other way for you to do things.
Some mothers exercise strict control over their children. The first year I came to Los Angeles I observed some mothers who had their little ones with them in the meetings. Whenever the little ones acted up, the mothers disciplined them. In a sense, I agree with this type of chastening. But in another sense, I do not agree with it, because you cannot change the age of a little "monkey" by discipline. No matter what you do to him, he will still be a "monkey." The little "monkey" needs time to grow. If you do not allow the little children to play, you will kill them. But those who are my age, over seventy, are not naughty. Rather, we like to have more time to rest.
Function is related to age. If we are not at the proper age, we cannot have the best practice, even if we have the best gifts. Without being at the right age, it is difficult to have the proper practice. Thus, we all need to grow. I thank the Lord that in His recovery He has gained many, especially many young people. But I am burdened to tell you that you need to grow. You cannot have an adequate practice unless you grow. If you are still childish, your practice will be abnormal. The most excellent way to function is the way of the growth in life. This is the way of love.
Do not think that love is a simple matter. No, in order to love, we must have a mature, normal, properly balanced life. You cannot expect a child five years old to love properly. Children fight with each other one minute and love each other the next. Their love fluctuates. This is not the love required in the Bible. The Bible requires a permanent love, a remaining love, a balanced, adjusted, proper love. If we would have such a balanced love, we need the proper growth in life. We need to be impressed with the need for the growth in life for the Body life.
Suppose you visit my home and find there only my wife and several children under the age of five. What kind of family would that be? However, if you visit my family, you will find at least three generations there: the grandparents, who are the older ones; the parents, who are middle-aged; and the children. This is what we want to see in the Lord’s recovery. Whenever we come together, we should see some elderly ones, some middle-aged ones, some young people, and some children.
By using this illustration I want to emphasize the need for us to seek the proper growth in life, the life that is expressed in love. Proper love is maintained through the growth in life. This means that real love is expressed and maintained in maturity. If, among the saints in the Body, there are a good number who are mature, there will be a balanced love among us. If we do not love properly, this means that we are not balanced or that we have not reached the standard of the growth in life. But if we are of the proper age, there will definitely be a balanced love among us.
(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)