“No hugs, no learning.” – Jerry Seinfeld

27 06 2011

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David are known for saying “No hugs. No learning.” regarding the characters of the Seinfeld TV show. They didn’t want the typical personal growth seen in a comedy. They didn’t want the typical emotional highs and lows. They just wanted to do comedy. The writers of Modern Family wanted the opposite. They wanted to show growth.

It’s worth a moment to ask ourselves a simple question, “Does God want us to grow?” Should we be growing in our character?

In almost every example that Jesus uses, about people, they are compared to something that grows. Ie: trees, branches, sheep, children, etc.

What exactly are we talking about? When most people thinking about growing personally (or spiritually) they think about changing their bad habits or attitudes. So let’s define this a bit.

Grow: to spring up and develop to maturity.

Character: the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, or essential nature.

Character may grow from the basic attitudes of a person’s life.

When you plan to grow you may be planning to break bad habits. It’s possible that you want to break a cycle of lousy attitudes, thoughts, or ways of talking. We all have a past. We all have things that we’ve been embarrassed about.

Some think that the approach of a Christian is simply, “turn it off”. There’s a song from a Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” by the South Park writers describing the LDS church’s suggestion that any bad feelings or lustful desires can just be turned off. The LDS official response was, “ this show may entertain you for a night, but The Book of Mormon will change your life.” I share their lack of being too quickly offended by satire, but want you to know that the Jesus of the Bible has more for you than just “turn it off” suggestions.

Spiritual growth should be a natural process. Yet it requires you to make choices and take an active role in learning.

Some change immediate. Some change takes time. Seeds take root before you see fruit.

How does the character change?

  1. Fresh start is a must.
  2. Receiving God’s grace changes you & how you see yourself.
  3. Forgiveness moves through you.
  4. Strength comes from relationship: Word & prayer.
  5. Attitudes, thoughts, words, habits begin to change.

David was painfully honest about how he felt when life was good and when life was bad. In Psalm 42 David wrote about dealing with real disappointment with God. You have to pay attention to what he says, but if you do you will learn a few lessons.

Lessons from Psalm 42: Be honest with yourself and with God. You must have a fresh start through Jesus. Receive the change that comes from God. Be honest with yourself and with God. Meet with God. Ask yourself, “What’s wrong?” Put your hope in God. Remember the good that He has done. Thank God. Don’t stop being honest with God and putting your hope in Him.

Colossians 2: 6-9 “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.”

Thoughts on growth from Colossians 2:6-9:

Let your life be built on Him.

Your faith will grow strong in the truth.

Overflow with thankfulness.

Don’t get distracted and confused.

Live in Christ.

Before you take on an active role in your spiritual growth grab a friend (“running partner”) and read through these verses: Ephesians 2:8-10 2 Timothy 1:9 Romans 12:2 Romans 8:29 Hebrews 4:16

Remember that God…

  1. Gave us life with the ability for growth.
  2. Gave us The Way for redemption.
  3. Gave us a fresh start.

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