One who is intentionally and actively following Jesus can expect to experience a life of growth, transformation, moral and spiritual victory and maturity. It is God’s intention that we be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mt.5:48). As we deal properly with the understanding and ability we currently possess we will find that our understanding and ability increases. A brief look at a few passages of Scripture should prove helpful.
“Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mk.4:8)
This parable is essentially about the importance of gaining understanding. Many people are exposed to “the word of the kingdom” (Mt.13:19) and yet not everyone gains understanding. This is because of a hard heart that is ultimately committed to something other than God and His truth. Of those who do gain understanding, they produce thirty, sixty, or hundredfold. The factors that go into these variables are not addressed in the parable, but such increase involves complex factors related to moral agency. God is calling us to live up to the truth we have, the light we possess.
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!'” (Lk.17:5)
Faith, as well as everything else that relates to moral agency, involves a response to God that consists of many factors and is, therefore, expressed in such a way that it can experience increase in accordance with knowledge and experience.
“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness…” (2 Co.9:10).
This statement relates to material needs and indicates that God will increase the resources of one who knows how to use and share such resources in a loving and beneficial manner. In a prior verse we read, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Co.9:6).
“…(the gospel) which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth…filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (Col.1:5-10).
Though we will consider this entire passage more fully at a later time, I will provide eight key elements related to important increase we are to experience.
We being by being FILL WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL. According to such knowledge, we are to WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE LORD. We do this in order to PLEASE HIM. When we do it results in our BEARING FRUIT. Once we bear fruit consistent with knowledge we possess, we INCREASE IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. As this increase takes place and responsibility also increases, God sees to it that we are STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER . This strength and power is for the purpose of ATTAINING OF STEADFASTNESS AND PATIENCE. As all of this takes place it leads to GIVING THANKS TO THE FATHER.
“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you…” (1Th.3:12).
As love involves, purposing and pursuing the highest good possible, we can increase in our ability to accomplish this.
“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more” (1Th.4:1).
This is a good example of living up to the light one has. Paul indicates that they were living in a way that pleased God and yet were not to assume there was, consequently, no growth to experience as they were to “excel still more.” We are to gain more understanding and perfect our skills at living accordingly.
“…for indeed you do practice it (love) toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more…” (1Th.4:10).
To “excel still more,” and to please God involves and includes our relationship with our fellow human beings, especially our brothers and sisters in the Christian community.
“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Pe. 1:8).
It is very important that, regardless of external situations and circumstances, we know that it is always appropriate that we grow and increase in moral character and qualities. This is part of the GOOD NEWS!
 This concept involves living up to the understanding and ability one possesses as does God. The main problem human beings face is not lack of understanding and ability (though this is a problem), it is that we do not use the understanding and ability we possess properly. For example, I often as inmates in the local prison about certain behaviors, “Did you know that it was wrong?” Almost universally they say, “Yes.” I ask them, “Do you think you had the ability to make a different choice?” Again, with a little reflection, the most prevalent answer is, “Yes.” There are times an individual attempts to justify his or her lifestyle by indicating they need more understanding or ability (which we all do on some level), but I take them back to the understanding and ability they do have and ask if they have used it properly, telling them that they must live up to what they have before being concerned about getting more (Mt.13:12).
 “Ability,” as used here is somewhat ambiguous. If we were to draw a comparison, we could think of a soldier being trained for battle or an athlete being trained for competition (which is what I will use here). A baseball player might possess raw talent, skill and ability and yet find that instruction in a certain area, involving technique or self-control, improves his game considerably. He might have the natural ability to catch balls but, through coaching, gain understanding about positioning himself properly, increasing the ease and consistency of making the catch. He might have considerable natural ability when batting but find that a good coach can offer him insight, understanding and practical instruction that improves his batting average, decreasing his tendency to be fooled by a certain pitch. On a spiritual and moral level, we find that the Holy Spirit serves as an excellent coach, leading us into greater understanding and application of that which we possess, leading to increase and advancement.