Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Only Hindrance to Christian Growth

When we see a lack of Christlikeness in ourselves, we can be tempted to blame others or to find some way to justify ourselves. But the truth is that the only hindrance to becoming more like Christ is our own sinful natures. Nothing and no one, except ourselves, can stop us from making progress in the faith.

Busy schedules can be overcome by prioritizing what God’s Word says to prioritize. Circumstances that keep us from doing what we feel called to do cannot keep us from being faithful in what God has given us at this very moment. Personal enemies cannot stop us from dying to ourselves and loving them even though they may hate us. Satan can only hinder us if we willingly give in to his temptations. A difficult spouse or rebellious child can do nothing to prevent us from living as Christ lived. Sometimes we are tempted to think that since others don’t respond to Christlike love, we are failures. But, the call to take up our crosses is not dependent on what anyone else around us does. We can trust Christ and obey His instructions to put off the flesh and to put on Christ no matter what anyone else does. "Success" in the Christian life is measured by our trust and obedience, not by how others respond to us.

Our greatest enemy is our own sinful nature. Think of Christ and how He hung on the cross with nails in His hands and feet. Though the world stood against Him and put Him to death, they could not stop Him from loving them and from loving everyone who belongs to Him. If His grace and loving affection toward you on the cross has won your affections, then will you too die to yourself and love others as Christ did? The only hindrance to Christian growth is yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Tom:

    Particularly your last paragraph reminded me of a conversation I had with Abby today. She told Sarah that she hates God and as a parent we expect this but it still is discouraging.

    So I went and talked to her to try to see what was behind her statement. She said that I hate God because he made lions and I hate lions. The logic of a four-year-old is truly fascinating.

    I was trying to show her why we should love God. I asked her why she should love and glorify God. Without any prompting she responded by paraphrasing the Boys & Girls Catechism: "because he made me and he takes care of me." (side note: importance of catechizing!)

    I said, exactly. Then I asked her - do you love mama and papa because we take care of you. Of course (and thankfully) she said yes. Then I asked her if God always takes care of her - and she said yes. Then I asked her if she should love God because he made her and takes care of her - on other words, because he first loved us. She said yes.

    Then I asked her how she can love God. She said that she needs a new heart. I agreed. Then we prayed and asked the Spirit of God to create in her a new heart. We both prayed. She at least knows the words to say - whether her heart is being softened or not is another question.

    When you wrote: think of Christ - this is what reminded me of this story and how I tried to point Abby to Christ and remind her what God has done for her - made her and takes care of her.

    Thanks for this great post.