Do we sometimes get discouraged or have feelings of disappointment because we may think that there does not seem to be enough spectacular growth in the Church of God, which is a spiritual organism? What we have to realize is that growth can be measured in more than one way. It can be measured by focusing on “numbers” — as far as quantity of members and coworkers is concerned — and it can be measured by focusing on increase of spiritual understanding and better conduct (2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:15) — as far as quality of living is concerned. Which, do you suppose, is more important in God’s eyes?
We may want to compare the growth of the Church with the foundation of a building. When it is strong, one can build on it. However, God must lay the foundation.
When David faced Goliath, it seemed to the human eye like an impossible task to defeat him. Goliath was a giant, close to nine feet tall, and David was just a teenager — he would be termed in our day as a “little runt” by comparison. Yet, this young man who did not have the impressive stature of Goliath, brought God’s enemy down. He did it with God’s help, not relying on his own strength. However, if they were taking bets at that time, you can imagine where the money would have been placed; yet, it did not turn out the way most people thought. The champion of the Philistines went down hard and with finality. You can read the entire account in 1 Samuel 17.
You can also read an interesting account in the seventh chapter of the book of Judges, in regard to God accomplishing a lot with Gideon and a small group of his supporters. God reduced the manpower down to 300 soldiers. With that small “army,” Gideon was able to overcome humanly insurmountable odds, because God was on his side. From a human point of view, it would have seemed to be an impossible task. You may recall, too, that Mr. Armstrong and his wife kept the Feast of Tabernacles, by themselves, for seven years, before God added anyone to the Church. Seven stands for completeness. The foundation had to be laid first.
After Christ’s death and resurrection, only 120 people were willing, at first, to follow Christ totally and completely (Acts 1:15). Prior to Christ’s death, there were many who had followed Him, but only up to a point. In fact, not every one of His disciples was willing to grow, by accepting more spiritual knowledge. When Christ tried to expand the spiritual horizon of His disciples, many refused to embrace His teaching and ceased to walk with Him any longer (John 6:60-66). At that time, the group of believers DECREASED in quantity, but those who stayed were willing and ready to INCREASE in quality (John 6:67-68).
We firmly believe that in God’s due time, He will add more people to Christ’s body — the Church — as He sees fit. In the meantime, let us ensure that we grow in the quality of our relationship with God. We must never despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). In the end, God can and will accomplish growth in every respect (Isaiah 55:10-11).