My forsythia follows a pattern each year, and I know what to expect from it. Soon the branches will be bare as the leaves float to the earth below.
Just as I know what to expect from my forsythia bushes, there are things we should expect to see in the lives of those who follow Christ. That’s what this discussion is about!
Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT
In my last post we looked at ways to practice being joyful. I hope you were able to begin taking your thoughts captive and start finding your joy in Christ again! You can visit that post here:
Now it’s time for the next expectation in the closing of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.
Grow to Maturity
I trust that you’re able to look back over your time as a follower of Christ and see how you’ve grown. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time, there should be signs of change in many areas of your life.
Here’s one list from Paul’s letter to the Colossians:
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds . . . Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (Colossians 3:5-9, 12-15 NLT).
That’s quite a list! I’m pretty sure you haven’t reached perfection in any of the “new life” goals. There is always room for improvement, no matter how long we’ve been growing in our relationship with Christ.
In reading over that list, which earthly things do you still struggle with? Take them to God. Remember, “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9). You can begin fresh right now, at this very moment.
Each time those things rear their ugly heads in your life, go right back to God again! The more you go to God with those issues and submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in you, the less hold they will have on your life.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other things to focus on pursuing! But where do we begin?
Well, here’s a starting point. Did you notice that every one of those attributes has to do with how you think about and treat others?
Each and every person you come into contact with is made in the image of God. Each one is loved immensely by Him, whether they are living in obedience to Him or not.
Seeing the eternal worth in others and praying that God would give you eyes to see them as He does will take you a long way toward growing in mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, love, peace, and thanksgiving. Even a slight change in perspective can make a big difference in our attitudes and behaviors.
The more we focus on building these qualities into our lives, the less room there is for all that other junk!
Is there someone in your life that doesn’t exactly bring the best out in you? Maybe today you can start praying that God would help you to see them as He does: full of eternal value and worth dying for.