Have you ever noticed that we’re always in a rush? I’m talking about those of us who live in the U.S. This isn’t always the case with people from different cultures, but it is often true of Americans. Patience is not one of our virtues. We rush from event to event. We want everything now not later. Fast food is no longer good enough we want instant food. The last time I pulled into the drive through at a fast food establishment it took them more than 60 seconds to take my order. I wasn’t happy. We have become a society of the instantaneous and anything less is unacceptable.
But life doesn’t always happen instantly. Some things only occur gradually. I’m reminded that many things in life happen over a period of time – step by step. Plants grow slowly, diets take time (!), education is a process, and relationships are built one day at a time. In fact many things in life are not only step by step but two steps forward and one step backward, two steps forward and one step backward, two steps forward and one step . . . .
And that’s the way of the Christian life. You won’t (can’t) become a spiritual person overnight. It’s a step by step process. Or a better description is it’s a two-step forward, one step backward process. The theological description that we use is progressive sanctification. That means that becoming like Christ (being sanctified) is a process not a sudden event.
And that’s where the frustration comes in. We want to be godly NOW. And that’s a good thing, but the reality is that because we battle the flesh (Galatians 5:16-18), sin (Romans 7:14—20) and the devil (Ephesians 6:10-18), godliness is always going to be a process. It’s always going to be two steps forward and one step backward. The key to becoming like Christ from a human perspective is that you never give up. No matter how slow your progress, no matter how frustrating it becomes – you don’t give up.
The Biblical term is perseverance. It’s a word that means to endure, not give up, don’t quit. The Apostle Peter links perseverance directly to godliness when he writes, Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness (2 Peter 1:6). It is through that step by step, agonizingly slow, tedious process that godliness will grow in your life.
We all like instantaneous. As a society we’ve become addicted to it. But some things are so much better when you devote time to them. Think of it this way – you can have a Big Mac for supper or you can have filet mignon. You can have one in 90 seconds at the drive through window or you can sit down in a fine restaurant with linen tablecloths and fine china and wait for the chef to cook your steak to perfection. One is fast the other is best.
God is in the business of changing your life for the best. He’s in no hurry. He’ll take as long as necessary for you to grow into someone who reflects His Son. He’s doing His part (2 Corinthians 3:18), your part is to cooperate with God’s work in your life and never give up simply because you don’t think it’s happening fast enough. There is no fast food in the spiritual life.
Stay in the Word