“The growth of trees and plants takes place so slowly that it is not easily seen. Daily we notice little change. But, in course of time, we see that a great change has taken place. So it is with grace.” (John Owen)
I am not where I thought I would be as a Christian today. When God saved me eight years ago, I intended to be more holy, more Christlike, more godly than I am now. But I’m not. Not by a long shot.
Sometimes I get too angry; other times I’m a little too impatient. On many occasions my sarcasm comes too natural and my cynicism springs forth too often. I don’t love my wife as I should and my love for the Lord wanes far too easily. In short, I’m less godly than I planned to be eight years in.
Wherever you are in your walk with Jesus—whether it’s been a month, a couple years, or decades—I imagine you feel the same way. We all do. We all get discouraged with our progress. We all are prone to frustration, realizing we are not as godly as we should be. But sanctification, like the growing of trees and plants—as Owen puts it—takes time. It’s slow, boring, and not easily seen.
If you watch grass grow you won’t see progress. After awhile, you’ll become impatient and annoyed that the grass seems to remain the same length. But if you mow your lawn and check it after a week, you’ll notice it’s grown so much where you need to mow again.
So it is with the Christian life. So it is with grace. Christian, if you are experiencing minuscule growth in your walk with Christ, don’t become discouraged, frustrated, or annoyed. There is certainly value in some discouragement simply because you shouldn’t be complacent. However, don’t despair. God is still molding you, still shaping you, still forming you into the image of Christ.
Must we be concerned with a perceived lack of growth? Absolutely. If we are faithful, we should always examine ourselves to see what progress we’re making. If a lack of growth or progress doesn’t concern us, there is a bigger problem at play. But we shouldn’t be distraught over a perceived lack of growth—many times we recognize how much we’ve changed when we look back to who we were before Christ.
If I look back to a year ago, I don’t see much change, and it can be discouraging. If I, however, look back to who I was before getting saved, there’s a world of difference. And it’s all by the grace of God.
Keep pushing, keep believing, keep trusting in the finished work of Christ.
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“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. . . . For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son,”
Perhaps one of the most often quoted and misunderstood scripture among modern evangelicals today: “all things work together …”
– all things, for the believer–lovers of God, (those he called, justified, glorified) work together to conform us to the image of Christ. You see, everything happening in the life of the saints are subservient to their bearing the image of their Savior! Romans 8 is certainly a lovely commentary on your subject “so it is with grace.”
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