September 30: “God’s Part and My Part in Becoming More Like Jesus”

9 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Isaiah 60:1-62:5
Philippians 1:27-2:18
Psalm 72:1-20
Proverbs 24:11-12

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT): “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Every child of God needs to grow up. And our growth will not be complete until we are like Jesus. While that will not be entirely true of us until we are perfected when we walk through death’s door and stand before Him, our aim in this life should be to continually head in that direction.

So how does that happen? How do we become more and more like Jesus as time passes? Are we supposed to muster up 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. Philippians 2:12-13 make that abundantly clear.

Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT): “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

In verse 12, we are commanded 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.” The “outside” of us needs to more accurately represent the “inside” that Christ has made new.

In verse 13, we are told that our growth does not originate with us. Instead, any desire, self-discipline, and effectiveness that we have that helps us become more like Jesus originates with God. 

Let’s dig a little deeper. Here’s an important principle: Realize that any growth 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 causing his muscles to grow, but he would be wrong. Lifting weights would 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 spiritual growth works. Reading the Bible doesn’t make us more like Jesus. Praying doesn’t do it. Silence and solitude don’t do it. None of the Christian disciplines grow us in the area of holiness. They simply put 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 on this. He wants you to be more like His Son. 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.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You have done so much for me. You have saved me and continue to bless me each day. Such love and kindness are worthy of giving my life to You in each moment of my days. I want to grow in holiness, and I will do my part, but I need You, Lord Jesus, to do the work. Thank You in advance. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Victor Freitas 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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