In Part One of our recent blog, we looked at the dilemma of having unrealistic expectations about our relationship with God. Many Christians in the United States have a desire to honor the Lord and know that His plan for their lives is to make them more like Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica and told them, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Unfortunately, many of us approach our relationship with God in the same way we would anything else in our lives – with unrealistic expectations and a faulty plan. So often, we expect instant results and quick fixes.
Now you may be wondering: What can I do to grow to be more like Jesus? First, you must determine the direction that you desire to go (i.e. What is the goal? Christ-likeness). Next, you must devote yourself to His plan of growing extraordinarily through seemingly ordinary activities. If a person desires to go on a road trip, they ought to consult a map to figure out the direction they need to be headed. Also, in order to ensure success, they should go about the seemingly mundane tasks of filling the car up with oil and gas, checking the tires, and buckling their seatbelt. The direction that believers are heading toward is complete conformity to Christ and they will get there successfully by devoting themselves to the ordinary ways in which God, in His Word, promises to bring about that transformation.
What activities has God promised to bless in our desire to become more like Jesus? In God’s Word we see a number of activities that the people of God devote themselves to, which lead to growth in Christ. Today we will focus on the first one that God promises to bless – the reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word. In both the Old and New Testaments, God instructs His people to focus on His Word. Psalm 1:1-3 in the Old Testament is a classic example:
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
God instructs people, in the beginning of the book of Psalms, to be like the blessed man instead of the wicked man. The blessed man is the one who takes his cues from the Word of God rather than the world. The blessed man delights in God’s law, or instruction (the Hebrew word is Torah, which can be translated law or instruction depending on the context). Since the blessed man delights in the LORD’s law, he spends his time meditating on it day and night. The psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of what the blessed man looks like – a tree that is nourished, producing fruit, prospering, and not withering.
Before the Apostle Paul dies, he wrote to his disciple, Timothy:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to continue in what he had always done – learning, believing, and using the Scriptures. The Scriptures have their source in God (they are God breathed) and are able to make people wise for salvation, which comes through faith in Christ. In addition, the Apostle Paul reminded his disciple that these sacred writings were useful for a number of things, including training in righteousness. Not only are the Scriptures able to show people how they can experience salvation through Christ, but they are also able to show us how to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ.
The first tool in our tool belt must be the Word of God. God promises blessing for the one who reads, meditates, and studies the Word of God (Psalm 1) and says that the Scriptures are useful for teaching and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3). So as we approach 2017, let us as a church celebrate, treasure, and read the Word of God… and let us watch as the Lord grows us through the nourishing of our souls as we devour the Scriptures like a man who hasn’t eaten for days as he approaches a well-spread feast. Check back next time for more ordinary ways in which God grows His people to be more like His Son, Jesus.