Jeans shrink, sweaters shrink, and sometimes people shrink! The New Testament, as we will see, warns about a spiritual shrinkage that we must avoid at all costs.
The Greek word for “shrink” was hypostello (hoo poh STELL oh). In military language it meant to retreat. In everyday usage it meant to duck down and hide. Perhaps most vivid of all, it was used in Greek to describe how a dog tucks his tail between his legs and slinks away.
The New Testament gives us three clear-cut areas where we must not shrink. First, we must not shrink back in the full, frank preaching of the Gospel. Paul could say to the elders from Ephesus that he did not shrink from declaring anything profitable, nor shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27). In a day of compromises, we need preachers who will not shrink!
Second, we must not shrink from fellowship with God’s people. We must learn the lesson Cephas (Simon Peter) learned when he shrank back and separated himself from the Gentile Christians in Antioch (Gal 2:12). Our fellowship must cross over the lines drawn by race or nationality. We must welcome all brothers on the same basis that they have been welcomed by Christ (Rom 15:7).
Third, we must not shrink in faith. Just before Hebrews gives us the Hall of Heroes in chapter eleven, we read these words: “My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no delight in him.” Then comes the stirring challenge: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and keep their souls” (Heb 10:38, 39).
May God make us shrink-proof!