Is your life bringing joy or sorrow to those you are in relationship with?
I believe viewing “Spiritual Maturity” as a “Ladder” to be climbed has definite drawbacks. One of the primary drawbacks is that this view can encourage comparisons with other people. We can be tempted to view ourselves on one rung of the ladder, while seeing others on a lower or higher rung. “Spiritual Maturity” is more like a “Winding Path” to take that may not look the same for everyone. The life-lessons that contribute to our maturity are not always as simple as taking one step up on the ladder. Nor is it always as simple as learning something all at once and then you’re done. Actually, some life-lesson that lead to maturity are a matter of degrees, and some take decades to learn. The real issue isn’t what rung of the ladder I’m on, but am I making progress on my journey to spiritual maturity.
2 Peter 1:5-8 mentions seven different graces that are to be developed in us as part of our spiritual maturity. Know that our growth and development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We grow and develop through our life situations, circumstances and events (even trials and troubles). Here are the seven…
1) Virtue: the proper and excellent fulfillment of something; the determination to do right; fulfilling what you are supposed to do which is glorify God by your life by becoming like Christ and following Him.
2) Knowledge: truth properly comprehended, properly understood, and properly applied; correct insight that comes form the Wisdom of God’s Word and life experience.
3) Temperance (Self-control): application of that mentioned above knowledge so that it affects your reason (thinking), emotion (feeling) and will (doing); it is holding oneself in, self-restrained, self-disciplined; controlling the flesh, the passions, and the bodily desires rather than allowing yourself to be controlled by them.
4) Patience (Perseverance): remaining steadfast to the Lord and His cause regardless of the situations, circumstances and events of life; endurance in doing what is right, never giving up to temptation, never giving up to trial, never giving up to difficulty, never giving up to sin.
5) Godliness: being like God, as He would have you to be and live completely for God and be joyful about it; the practical awareness of God in every area of life—the idea of God-consciousness.
6) Kindness: showing brotherly affection, friendship and mutual sacrifice for others because of our mutual relationship to Christ.
7) Charity (Love): This is the love of the will, the love of choice, the love of volition, not the love of emotion; it is doing what needs to be done in a spirit of self-sacrifice even in spite of your differences with other.
Along my “Winding Path” towards “Spiritual Maturity”, I’m keeping my eyes open for God to use the situations, circumstances and events of my life to grow and develop me. I want to make progress. How about you?
Only what we are not giving can be lacking in any situation.
When asked about this quote in an interview, she responded…
“That is the line from A Course In Miracles that does more for me than any other. We’re constantly in situations where something isn’t working the way we wish. We instinctively blame someone else, or at least some factor outside ourselves. Yet, A Course In Miracles says, “Only what we are not giving can be lacking in any situation.” So to train your mind to think along those lines – “What am I not giving here?” “Who am I not forgiving?” “What am I not contributing?” “What is the goodwill that I am withholding?” – radically transforms where we dwell within a situation. And where we will dwell within a situation determines whether or not we have any transformative power there.”
I invite you to join me as I wrestle with this question. My prayer is that, at the end of our wrestling, we will do what will “Make A Difference” and bring transformative power to our life situations.
In Psalm 41, the psalmist tells the story of his plight by focusing on the response of other people to what was happening to him. According to verses 5-8, David’s enemies are not kind at all. Like vultures, they circle his sickbed, watching, waiting and hoping for his death. The cruelest blow came from a close friend whom he trusted and with whom he had shared fellowship. In verse 9, he mentions the betrayal of this “familiar” friend.
This reference is most likely to Ahithophel. He was an esteemed counselor and cherished companion of David. They enjoyed a close friendship (Psalm 55:12-14). Ahithophel “lifted up his heel against David” in that he conspired with David’s own son, Absalom, against him (2 Samuel 15–2 Samuel 17). Remember, this also happened to Jesus with His close friend Judas (John 13:18-21).
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish or discern who are your fake friends and who are your real friends. Why? Because fake friends don’t wear signs around their necks saying, “Beware, I’m Fake!” So, how do we tell the fake from the real?
Recently, I went to the bank to make a deposit. After giving the teller my deposit, she said one of the twenty dollar bills I gave her was fake. I asked, “How can you tell”? She said you can tell a fake twenty from a real twenty by touch (feeling the texture and thinness of the paper), by sight (the portrait, print quality & serial numbers), and by security features.
Recognizing my curiosity, she went on to explain a few of the security features of the twenty dollar bill. She said, “We check for the following…”
She then walked me over to the window, held up the fake twenty and the real twenty, and pointed out the clear distinction between the two based on those features.
Initially, to me they looked the same, but she could tell the difference between the fake and the real. Why? She knew what to look for. Like the security features for the the twenty dollar bill, there are some features we can look for to help when it comes to friendships.
Real Friendship Feature #1 – Authenticity (Romans 12:9a)
Real Friendship Feature #2 – Confidentiality (Proverbs 11:13)
Real Friendship Feature #3 – Courtesy (Proverbs 12:18)
Real Friendship Feature #4 – Honesty (Proverbs 24:26)
Real Friendship Feature #5 – Humility (Philippians 2:3-4)
Real Friendship Feature #6 – Mercy (Colossians 3:13)
Real Friendship Feature #7 – Reciprocity (Galatians 6:2)
We don’t need fake friends in our lives, we need real friends. Today, I will trust God to ultimately expose the fake from the real.
Proverbs 26:23-26 (New Living Translation-NLT)
23 Smooth words may hide a wicked heart,
just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.
24 People may cover their hatred with pleasant words,
but they’re deceiving you.
25 They pretend to be kind, but don’t believe them.
Their hearts are full of many evils.[b]
26 While their hatred may be concealed by trickery,
their wrongdoing will be exposed in public.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…
A true friend’s criticism or frank speaking can make a positive impact in our life. Although, what is said may hurt, it is said to help. What a gift to have a friend who cares enough about us to risk the friendship. Do you have at least one? When our friends tell us something we really don’t want to hear, remember it takes courage on their part.
Whereas it takes courage on their part, it takes humility on our part. We must know that we are not always right. It’s okay to admit we are not perfect and have blind spots. Let’s listen for God’s direction in the words of our friends knowing that God can use our friends to help us grow.
Today, I will not jump to a wrong conclusion and criticize my friend’s words before I’ve really examined them. It may be tough to hear and even hurt in the moment, but when I really hear what is being communicated, it can help me in my future.
The familiar phrase “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” is a catchphrase based upon a line from the television commercial of Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc.
This catchphrase is often the cry of one companion or friend to another when facing difficulty in life.
In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon writes about his observations of human suffering and oppression. He shows the journeying of ancient travelers who are better off when they travel with a companion or friend.
The picture here is of two travelers making their way over rough terrain. Should one experience trouble, the other is there to help. Like travelers in ancient times, we are susceptible to “falling” as we journey through life.
If this ever becomes you’re reality, although you might go down, you shouldn’t have to stay down—not with faithful friends journeying through life with you.
Like the catchphrase, we have to be willing to say to our “Faithful Friends”, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Ask for help when you’ve fallen, but know that help does not always come in the form of “Cash”. There are times when “Counsel” or “Comfort” is needed more than cash.
Today, remember we were never designed to go it alone. God created us to live in community with other people—community that is mutually beneficial. It’s not just being helped, it is also helping.
Psalm 119 puts emphasis on the Word of God and its sufficiency in our lives. In verse 105, the psalmist uses the image of a traveler journeying through the darkness of night. It would be easy for travelers to lose their way if it were not for a lamp to guide them.
Life has some harsh dark realities we must face and navigate through. God’s word can and will guide us as we journey through them. By implication, this metaphor indicates just enough light for the immediate area and the next step. As believers we really don’t need a searchlight that casts light on the coming weeks, months and years. All that is in God’s hand.
We need “enough light for the step we’re one” to make sure that the next step we take is just and right.
Let’s trust God for every step we take knowing, through His Word, He will provide enough light for the step we’re on.
When someone commits a terrible offense against you—no matter whether the hurt came by way of words or actions—forgiveness can be terribly difficult. When you’ve been on the receiving end of hurt, forgiveness is not as simple as hitting the delete key and erasing it from your memory.
No doubt the enemy and our flesh will entice us to be so angry that we take revenge, but we need to understand forgiveness in terms of God’s expectations of us.
Ephesians 4:32 says, … be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
On the surface, what the apostle Paul writes concerning forgiveness in the above verse sounds fairly simple. Yet, you and I know the truth that, though it sounds simple, it’s not necessarily easy. Contrary to what you may have heard, forgiveness isn’t MINIMIZING the seriousness of the offense, RESUMING a relationship without changes, or just FORGETTING what happened.
The Biblical idea of forgiveness is that we can decide not to “remember” someone’s sins in terms of seeking revenge, but we are allowed to remember in order to protect ourselves, make a situation better and make wise decisions in the future.
To forgive means to say, “What you have said or done has truly and deeply hurt me, yet though I feel the pain of what you have done, I choose to give up resentment about the wrong, give up resentment towards you as the wrongdoer, and give up plans for retaliation or revenge against you.
Today, I choose NOT to live with the cancer of an unforgiving heart. Doing so will keep me from being the person God wants me to be, and prevent me from carrying out His assignment for my life. When I would pick up some sharp object that would hurt or harm me, my mother would say “Put that down before you hurt yourself”.
In the words of my mother, Put That “UNFORGIVENESS” Down Before You Hurt Yourself.