October 8: “Making Progress Toward Perfection”

6 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Kings 11
Philippians 2
Ezekiel 41
Psalms 92-93

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Philippians 2:12-13 (CSB): “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Every child of God needs to grow. And our growth will not be complete until we are like Jesus. While our final perfection won’t occur until we walk through death’s door and stand before Him, our aim in this life should be to continually head in that direction.

Imagine that you take up running. It’s difficult at first but you eventually get to a point where you can run 3 miles without stopping. So, you register to run in your first race. The day comes and you complete that race but realize that the person who finished the race first was about 20 minutes faster than you. You know that you will never be as fast as them … but you determine that you are going to get as fast as you possibly can.

That’s what it’s like on our spiritual journey. We will never reach perfection until our earthly life is over. But, that shouldn’t stop us from doing the best we can to grow in holiness while we are here. We won’t reach perfection but we can at least make a lot of progress in that direction.

So how does that happen? How do we become more and more like Jesus as the time passes? Are we supposed to dig in and find the self-discipline to become more like Him? Or do we sit back and wait for God to do the work?

The answer is … both! It is our job and God’s job to make us more like Jesus and our Verses for Today state that clearly.

Philippians 2:12-13 (CSB): “Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.”

In verse 12, we are told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. This refers to the fact that when we were saved, Jesus came to live within us. So that perfection and the complete righteousness that we have within us needs to be “worked out” so that the outside of us resembles the inside of us more and more.

In verse 13, we come to understand that our growth does not originate with us. Any desire, self-discipline, and effectiveness that we have that helps us to become more like Jesus originates with God. 

Let’s dig a little deeper for a few moments: Realize that any growth that we have toward Christlikeness is because we put ourselves in a place where God can grow us. 

For instance, someone who wants to develop his muscles begins to lift weights. He may think that lifting weights is what is causing his muscles to grow but he would be wrong. Lifting weights would actually accomplish nothing if his body wasn’t responding positively by repairing and building his muscles after each workout. Working out with weights is simply an activity that puts the guy in a place where growth can happen.

That’s how it is with us. Reading the Bible doesn’t make us more like Jesus. Praying doesn’t do it. Silence and solitude doesn’t do it. And any other Christian discipline does not grow us in the area of holiness. It simply puts us in a place where God can grow us. They are necessary for growth but, in reality, it is God who grows us, not our activities.

Read your Bible, friend. Pray. Serve. Fast. Worship. Journal. But realize that these Christian activities don’t grow you. They simply put you in a place where God can grow you.

So pursue Christlikeness today. Engage in the spiritual disciplines. And realize that it is God who is working in you to help you accomplish that goal. It is you AND God.

When you stumble and fall into sin, simply call out for his forgiveness, receive it, and then join Him again on your route to holiness. Believe me, friend, He is working with you in this. He wants you to be more like His Son. So join Him in becoming more like Jesus.

One last thought: If you want to grow in Christlikeness and want to know how to engage in the spiritual disciplines, I would highly recommend the book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” by Don Whitney.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, I want to live my life in a manner that is worthy of what You have done for me on the cross and in my heart. I want to make progress toward holiness and toward my ultimate perfection. I commit to engaging in the spiritual disciplines that will enable me to be in a place where You can grow me. Together, I know that when it is my time to walk through death’s door, I will be so much more like You than I am right now. Thank You. Amen.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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