Life Can Be A Struggle If You Let It.

More than fifty years of being a Christian I have found it has many advantages.  However, a crucial step toward securing the Christian advantage is to understand that it is not a side-benefit of salvation; rather, it is a side-benefit of spiritual maturity.  The gift of salvation that one receives by accepting Christ is a solid beginning but solid beginnings don’t necessarily translate into solid endings.  Entering a race is not the same as finishing a race!  The Christian advantage is secured by getting past the starting gate and racing toward maturity.  The first lap in the race consists of asking a number of important questions.  What is spiritual maturity?  What are the consequences of a person’ state of maturity?  How spiritually mature am I?  How can I become spiritually mature?  Am I willing to make an all-out commitment to serve Christ?

Paul describes maturity as a progression that reaches to eternity rather than a specific plateau one can reach and settle into retirement.  Of course the definition of maturity is subjective.  It means different things to different people.  My definition is growing towards a goal rather than actually reaching a goal.  It is a process similar to sanctification being a process.  Maturity encompasses many stages of growth in a Christian’s life but for all practical purposes the person who has left the elementary teachings about Christ and is growing to maturity falls within the range of what I consider mature.

The question of the consequences of a Christian’s state of maturity depends on whether or not he is moving or standing still.  It is not uncommon for men and women who have been Christians for some years to find themselves frozen in place.  They have made a solid beginning and then stopped.  They are not running, walking or even crawling.  They are the embodiment of the Christians Paul criticized in his letter to the Corinthians.  1 Corinthians 3:1 – “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.”

As I sat on the board of a local business we were told that the business had become profitable again.  After a couple of hours of assessing the problems the business had encountered over the past 2½ years it occurred to me that this is sometimes how God works.  I reminded the owner that he had been given a definite call to consult and witness to other Christian business people.  I asked, how might you help others unless every problem that is possible happened to your business and you found a way to correct it?  Most Christians don’t believe they need your help when everything is going well.  It is when they are struggling that they need Christian guidance.  Then they may be more likely to listen.

It has been my experience that God will continually stretch us.  He will allow us to go through the most difficult problems in order to prepare us for what His next plan is for our lives.  No greater example is the life of the Apostle Paul.  Some of the wealthiest Christian business people have had to go through bankruptcy before obtaining their riches.  Sometimes the more spiritually mature we become and the more capable we are the greater our struggles become.  So how do we handle them?  Do we work more hours as the world does or do we trust that God is in it and the Holy Spirit is there to help us?  Paul’s example is that we must maintain contentment, peace, joy and love regardless.  To Paul, problems were challenges and opportunities and not really obstacles.

Now we come to the question of how to become spiritually mature which is easy to answer but not so easy to implement.  We have all known a number of Christians who tried to become spiritually mature and failed so miserably and completely that after a time they simply gave up and returned to the influence of their worldly natures.  It might be encouraging to these folks to know that the Apostle Paul experienced the same struggles, the same failures and after a time, he too gave up.  Romans 7:15 – 18 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  Paul describes his struggles and underscores the hopelessness of trying to win by using one’s own strength or power.  It simply cannot be done.  Those Christians who have gone through the struggle and given up are often astonished when they discover that giving up is the first step toward winning the struggle.

The most important lesson to learn about the conflict between one’s worldly nature and one’s spiritual nature is to stop struggling!  This is precisely what Paul did and it is precisely what all Christians must do.  Unfortunately, the matter doesn’t end there.  Christians who are aggressive and goal oriented are certain to face a daily onslaught of events that will tempt them to take matters into their own hands and “do battle” with their antagonists.  The fact is that Christians in the workplace can be assured that no matter how successful they might be at turning the matter over to the Holy Spirit; “thereby putting to death whatever belongs to their world natures” they do not have the faith and trust in God to do so.

Keep in mind that those who do nothing never experience failure.  Only those who try to accomplish something experience it.  Then there is the matter of satanic influence.  The fact is that Satan hates God and those who love and worship Him.  Satan concentrates on those who are growing spiritually.  He doesn’t waste time trying to tempt or interfere with people who are spiritually sick or dying.

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  1. Hello this post is nice and good. Can you tell me any related articles?

    • DonBoyd

       /  December 15, 2010

      At the bottom of the blog hit “http” and it will take you to the other blogs.

  1. Christian CEO: Things to Consider As You Mature Spiritually « Christian CEO

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