The Bible encourages the Christian to grow. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” 1 Peter 2:2).
The Apostle Paul speaks in derision concerning the Corinthians who have not grown: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Cor. 3:1-2). The jealousy and quarreling in the Corinthian church revealed their lack of spiritual maturity.
Hopefully, we who have been Christians for a while have progressed past infancy, but it is helpful to know that we will not reach perfection in this life. Try as hard as we may, even with the Holy Spirit to help us, we will fall short of the mark. Those who think they have reached perfection need to read another couple of verses in 1 John--verses 8 and 10 of chapter 1: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us . . . If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.”
The encouragement found in the original verse of our study is not that we give in to Satan and give less diligence to pressing on to the mark. As Joyce Meyer says, “God did not give us His grace that we live sloppy lives.” We need not, however, be overly discouraged when we fail in our attempt to be all that we should be. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we can repent of our sins, obtain forgiveness, and resume our relationship with our Savior. There is great value in recognizing our limitations. It brings us to depend utterly upon God, and that dependence can produce in our lives one of the most admirable Christian qualities of character--humility. The admission of our inadequacy gives God a chance to do with us what we cannot do by ourselves.
We need to know that “what we will be has not yet been made known.” Our friends need to know it, too.
Hypocrisy--deliberately attempting to appear committed to Christ when we are not--has no place in the life of the Christian. Imperfection, no matter how hard we try, will always characterize the earthly Christian. The motivation for hypocrisy is pride. Like God, we resist the proud. The imperfect Christian will admit his or her imperfection, and humbly seek the grace to overcome. God gives grace to the humble, and so should we.
The first time I attended a Bill Gothard seminar, I was given a badge with the letters BPWMGINFWMY on it. The purpose of the badge was to remind me and those around me: “Be patient with me. God is not finished with me, yet!” That reminder should make a great deal of difference in how we think about and act toward each other.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: . . . I press on.” (Phil. 3:13-14)