Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Spiritual Maturity

We read in Isaiah 44:4 that God’s people will “spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.” Our Christian walk should be a walk that desires to be pleasing to God first and foremost. When this happens, then we will see growth and maturity take hold in our life here on earth. Every one of us should have a constant desire to progress toward spiritual maturity in all aspects of our life. There are several areas in our life that God wants to see us mature and develop in. These are:

1)  Fruitfulness: “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). God asks that we share his word with others. This is something that should be on all of our hearts. We should look for opportunities to share the good news to those we come in contact with. 

2)  In Christ: “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).  “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In order for us to mature in Christ we must learn what a good work is (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). When we speak “the truth in love,” we are growing in Christ because we are speaking His truth and we are doing it in love, caring for the soul of another. 

3)  In Love: “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The true Christian test of life is whether one can show a genuine love for the brethren. For us to be able to mature in the sight of God, this is something that all of us must possess. As Paul stated, it is also an area in which we need to continue to increase. There is nothing that takes the place of loving and caring brethren who genuinely look forward to seeing and being with each other at every opportunity. May we all grow in our love for one another!

4)  Unto Perfection: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The word “perfection” means “completeness.” Once we have learned the truth of God’s word and have been obedient to the gospel, we should then progress onward to maturity, not returning to the basic elements again. We need to learn to be teachers (Hebrews 5:12-14), and the only way to do this is through the word, having a desire for God’s word in order to grow to completeness. Peter writes, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). When we are “perfect” or “complete,” then we will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10). In order to progress to this point we must strive to put all the characteristics mentioned by Peter to use in our life. We must add “ virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

5)  Grace and Knowledge: “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). When we learn and understand the great gift that God gave us in His Son, then we should be motivated to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. The more we know, the better we can defend the gospel and spread the gospel. Jesus wants us to know Him as He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). We need to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord.

In conclusion, our spiritual maturity will be realized when we put away childish things from our life (1 Corinthians 13:11) and begin to cultivate an understanding of the word (1 Corinthians 14:20). If we will follow the example of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13, 15; Philippians 3:15), and partake of the deeper truths of the gospel (Hebrews 5:14), then we will be able to overcome any temptation that is cast our way (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 2:14). When this happens, then it will be obvious that we are pressing toward maturity in our Christian life. It may then be said of us: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Living a Faithful Life

We can read in the second book of Timothy where the apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to live a faithful life unto the Lord. The instructions that he gave him are inspired instructions for us today. Let’s look at this passage of scripture and then I’ll make some comments regarding some of the things that Paul points out. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. 22) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:1-7, 22-26).

Endure Hardship
When we are determined to study God’s Word and to apply His teaching in our life, then we will be able to endure hardship. No matter what Satan throws our way, we will be able to overcome. We can never walk in the steps of the Savior if we don’t learn what it is that we must do to walk in His steps. Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He has promised us that if we will take up His yoke, and learn about Him, then we will find rest for our souls. The faithful man of God is the one that really trusts in the Lord and counts on Him to deliver the faithful from the Devil.

Paul explains to Timothy (and to us), that we must endure hardship if we are to be counted worthy of Christ. A soldier of Christ is one that will do whatever it takes to please Him. If we are honestly, sincerely striving to please Jesus, then we WILL NOT get involved with the various affairs of this life which do not promote good, honest, Christian living. We should be busy pleasing our Lord!

Pursue Righteousness
We are encouraged to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace”. I just don’t understand why it is that individuals become Christians, and yet never really want to live as a Christian. I used to play baseball and I loved to play baseball from the time I was ten until my mid-thirties. When I put on that uniform and took the field, I was determined to do the very best I could for the team and myself. I practiced hard and played hard as I tried to become the best player I possibly could be. Here’s my point; If I was not determined to do the best I could in baseball, why play? Why should I pretend to want to play baseball if my heart was not really into it? When I became a Christian, I decided to live my life the very best I could for the Lord. In order to do that, to pursue righteousness, and the love of God, it meant that there were some things in this life that I could not do. Being a disciple of Christ means that I have to be careful where I go, what I watch, what I do, what I wear, what I say, and what I think. Paul said in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things.” 

Correct Those Who Are In Opposition
A faithful Christian who cares about the souls of others will do what they can to correct those who are in opposition to the truth. Sometimes this is not pleasant but must be done so that they may see their error, repent, and escape the snare of the Devil. Remember, if you are ever corrected by a loving saint, count it a blessing, because they care for your soul.