Escaping The Pressure

Jeff grace, Spiritual Growth

You have likely wondered at times why you can’t seem to achieve uninterrupted consistency in your Christian walk.  Maybe you have experienced highs and lows and have learned over time that your feelings tend to impact your level of commitment to God and His Kingdom.  Now that you have journeyed with Jesus for a bit, it is likely that you’ve wished inwardly that you could enjoy a more faithful progress without any future stumbles, fumbles and failures.  Well, you are in good company and I want to suggest that the very fact that you desire a more honorable pattern of consistency is an indicator that God is currently at work in your life.  A behavior consistent with your beliefs is evidence of grace operating within you.  Listen to some things that the Apostles Paul & Peter wrote to those whom they led in the faith. Follow the word “establish” in each verse.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 – “The Lord is faithful. He will establish you…”
1 Thess. 3:13 – “So that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father…”
2 Thess. 2:16-17 – “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”
1 Peter 5:10 – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

 

Each one of these passages let you know that it is God Himself who establishes you in the faith.  We want to wake tomorrow and be in the final port of full maturity in the faith.  We want to think all the right thoughts.  We long for perfectly consistent words and behavior.  Anointed relationships are what we crave so that we don’t need to apologize to others so often.  Some want God to snap His fingers and turn them into the perfect wife or mother. Many Christian men agonize at why they are not yet at the level that Brother So-and-So has achieved. Some believers live in a constant state of comparing themselves to some imaginary arrival mark, discouraged at the reality that they themselves have not arrived there yet. This type of thinking can bring defeatism, restlessness or even depression to the believer’s heart. If only our emotions were always operating under the Spirit’s control!  Yes, we long to be fully sanctified and settled. But that lovely desire is not going to happen for you in this life, friend.  We are certainly being made more faithful, more consistent, more sanctified, more settled by His masterful hands…but the finished product will not be seen until we come face to face with the Potter Himself.

There’s a fine line between healthily hungering for righteousness and unhealthily despairing of falling short of that eternal standard.  You and I must develop an ongoing confidence that God is indeed establishing us, while we also retain the humility that acknowledges we are not remotely close to “having arrived”.  If all you focus on is the sovereign grace of God which is clearly working to make you like His Son, you may never feel compelled to “strive for mastery” (2 Tim. 2:5).  Yet, if all your heart rests upon is your need to engage in the process of spiritual growth to constantly become “better” for Jesus, then you will likely find yourself despairing of not measuring up, nor having the power to live the life He intends for you.  Let us learn that God initiates the process, empowers the process and completes the process.  Let us also recognize that we commit to the process, yield to His power and obey His commands.

It sounds like God has called you to an unequal partnership in this process of bringing Him glory through your life.  He does all of the hardest work.  You have been blessed with the privilege of participating in the process.  Give it your best and rejoice in the grace that compensates fully for everything you are aware of that is lacking in you…and also everything lacking that you aren’t aware of.