I’m one of those people who believes in the absolute Truth of God’s word; I totally trust in God’s promises and His faithfulness.
Until I don’t.
The Bible contains hundreds of promises from God, many of them too wonderful to even imagine. I believe them. They’re true. God spoke them and he cannot lie; his word will always accomplish the purpose for which he sent it.
But I don’t see them. For instance, I don’t feel like I have the mind of Christ, or the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead living in me.
Here’s a favorite example:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3a)
If that’s true (and it is!) then why am I not living an abundant, godly life?
Recently, I had all the ingredients on hand to make my favorite meal, a spicy stir-fry. But when I opened the fridge to get started, I spied a slice of leftover gas-station pizza, and chose the easy instead of the good. My point is, just because God has given me everything I need doesn’t mean I have chosen to use it.
The things God provides aren’t necessarily going to fall into my lap. There is effort on my part to recognize his provision and implement it in my life. If I choose to settle for mediocre, that’s on me, because he has provided more than I could ask or imagine.
When Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given to you,” he meant just that. It IS given to me, just like the Amazon package that is placed on my front porch. It’s mine, but I have to bring it inside and open it and use it.
Everything we need for an abundant, God-pleasing life has been made available. It’s been planted in our spirits. But I can’t just sit back and watch it happen. A toddler has all the bones and muscles and ligaments she will ever need, but there is a lot of growing and working to be done before she can become a competitive gymnast. In the same way, if we look at the context of 2 Peter 1:3, we see there is a whole lot of pressing in that’s necessary to manifest what we’ve been given.
His divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness…. 5make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; 6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance, to perseverance, godliness; 7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.
I don’t know about you, but excellence, self-control, and perseverance do not come naturally to me. I constantly have to turn away from what I want in the moment (to be comfortable, to indulge my emotions) to what I want long-term. I want to lay hands on the sick and see them recover. I want the Spirit to lead me into all truth and tell me things to come. I want to know God a thousand times better than I do now. Just knowing the promises doesn’t bring them forth. The enemy and my own carnal nature are always tempting me to settle for mediocre, for easy. One slice of pizza isn’t going to ruin me, but a habit of choosing the easy instead of the good will produce a life of mediocrity. God has called me to so much more. He has already given me the power to do everything he has asked me to do, but it’s still my choice. I don’t want to waste the gifts God has given me and the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of those around me.
Like Jesus facing the cross, I need to focus on the joy of the end result instead of the feelings of the moment. He never said it would be easy, but I know that it’s worth it.