The Necessity of Testing
When I achieved puberty in the normal maturity of a boy becoming a man I had a talk with my father. Now, you might quickly assume that the talk was about the “birds and the bees.” However, at that time in history speaking about sexual functions would be the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, I was not able to actually say the names of genital parts of the body until I was 40. I was raised in an environment where movies, card playing, make-up, and dancing were frowned upon; I certainly wasn’t going to discuss more intimate details of life between boys and girls or between men and women.
What I came to my father about was what he called “growing pains.” I was gaining muscle. My body was developing into a manly body with strength. My arms, shoulders, and legs ached. For muscles to develop and grow they were being exercised. Exercise results in muscles becoming bigger and stronger and blood vessels expanding to supply nutrients and needed fuel to the muscles. There are also chemical results that happen in the body during the development of the muscles.
One of the things that happens is the release of endorphins. I found some fact about endorphins on the internet:
“Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.
“In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Endorphins have been suggested as modulators of the so-called "runner's high" that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise. While the role of endorphins and other compounds as potential triggers of this euphoric response has been debated extensively by doctors and scientists, it is at least known that the body does produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise.”
While the development of muscle and the production of chemicals in the body due to exercise may be interesting; what do these fact have to do with spiritual development or spiritual maturity you may ask? I am so glad you asked! Consider Luke 4: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” (Luke 4: 1, 2 NIV)
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.” (Luke 4: 14, 15 NIV)
Without testing the muscles do not grow. Without exercise the chemicals that make it possible for us to enjoy the process are not produced. Any athlete knows that she or he must go through periods of stress to strengthen the muscles and make the tasks possible at a high level so that competition is possible.
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan when He was baptized. He was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for the expressed purpose of being tested by the devil.
Jesus returned from the testing with fully developed spiritual muscles and taught with amazing results. He was praised by the people; the beginning of the glory that would come to Him as He followed His Father’s plan.
Our muscular or our natural development reflects God’s plan for our spiritual development. God has planned that we must exercise to develop muscles and has planned that the body will produce endorphins so that we will enjoy exercise and continue to do that which our body needs to remain healthy.
Our spirituality and our maturity also depend on stress or testing in order to develop. It is well know that we are to disciple new believers. The term disciple implies discipline. We must learn to do those things that develop us into mature daughters and sons of God.