One of the things that disturbed about my Christian life was my failure to maintain steady progress in becoming like our Lord. I have read the Scriptures, done some preaching, and heard from brethren about progress being essential in our walk in the light. I believe that’s the truth. Paul tells Timothy to allow the brothers to see his progress (1 Timothy 4:15), and he expresses to others that his fellowship with them is for their progress (Philippians 1:25). Passages like Ephesians 4:14-16, Galatians 4:19 and Hebrews 5:14-16 reveal that one purpose of our Christianity is for us to mature in Christ and fill roles of greater responsibility. Passages like Colossians 3 and 2 Peter 1:5-8 seem to indicate that we can with decisiveness and finality put sin to death in our lives and by force of will steadily add wonderful qualities to our faith.
If we ignore other Biblical truths, we may begin to expect of our lives an unbroken, upwards progression that rises all the way to heaven. I think we are to read such passages as those listed above and see in them the truth about the direction we are to be heading. I think they are to represent for us a serious challenge to present ourselves for God to make of us all we can be. I don’t want us to expect less of ourselves than God does. However, while progress is definitely intended, there is too much Biblical evidence to the contrary for us to imagine that we will always, only progress. We have setbacks. Read 1 John to see that this is so. The disciples continued some three and a half years, day and night with our Lord. During that time, Peter’s life did not follow an unbroken, upwards climb. In fact, it appeared he would graduate “magna cum coward” from Jesus’ school of discipleship, as did the others who all deserted Christ in the garden and fled. This, I would remind you, was after they had lived day and night with Him…after they had heard His teaching…His tone…His prayers…after they had witnessed His compassion and tireless, selfless service to others. Even after Peter preached on Pentecost, he was capable of grievous sin (GaIatians 2:11ff).
Paul, who wrote many of the above passages on our need to progress, said of himself (though he was then imprisoned for Christ’s sake) that he had not yet obtained the prize, and that he was the “worst” of sinners. So, I urge you, fellow Christ followers, don’t give up because of setbacks. If you didn’t progress today…if you went the wrong direction…or even backwards today…don’t let that keep you from progressing tomorrow. Remember, “…He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). And don’t you quit…don’t grow weary in well-doing…don’t let failure become fatal by causing you to end your efforts for Jesus. I need you to hang in there and so do others. It is an honor to your Lord to keep on even when it gets so tough. Let your progress, though it may, at times, even often, be frustratingly slow and unsteady, be seen by all in the “day of Jesus Christ.”
I love you with the affection of Jesus Christ. But He…He outdoes me in loving you by leaps and bounds. Feel His pleasure in you today!