Admit it. You clicked on the link because you wanted to see what happened next. You wanted to see what it was that had me in tears, or left me speechless, or that I totally didn’t see coming. You wanted to learn that one weird trick that would finally get rid of all your belly fat. You wanted to learn the one astonishing truth that would completely revolutionize the way you see instant coffee. Despite your best intentions, you got sucked in by yet another clickbait headline.
Why do we get so easily sucked into sensational headlines? We know that they’re going to disappoint us. We know that the “amazing” spectacle isn’t very amazing. We know that the “weird trick” to lose weight will end up being something ridiculous, like wrapping our bodies in tin foil. We know that the “ten ways to change the world” won’t change jack.
I think part of the reason we get sucked into the vortex of sensational headlines is that we are always looking for shortcuts to change. We are always on the watch for tips or tricks that will usher instant change into our lives. We want instant progress, instant weight loss, instant financial peace, instant power over our anger, instant self-control.
But we serve a God who doesn’t usually do things in an instant. In fact, God is unusually slow in the way that he works.
Think about it for a moment. If God wanted to, he could completely sanctify us the moment he saved us. We pray the sinner’s prayer, feel a rumbling in our souls, then, “Presto change-o!” and suddenly we are sin free. If God so desired, he could entirely sanctify us at the same moment he entirely justifies us.
But God doesn’t do it that way. Instead, he changes us slowly over the course of our entire lives. Psalm 1:3 says of the godly man:
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.
Those are not quick, explosive, sensational words. They are slow, ponderous, steady words. Spiritual growth is like the growth of a tree by a steam: slow, steady, not usually observable, bearing fruit in the right season. There are no quick fixes, no simple tricks to accelerate growth, no seven point lists to guarantee godliness. Spiritual growth is slow and steady.
Or, consider how Jesus described the kingdom of heaven:
The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32)
God doesn’t advance his kingdom with shock and awe tactics. There are no pyrotechnics or lasers, there is no marching band leading the way. God is slow and quiet, like a seed planted in the ground.
But here’s the good news: Though God doesn’t grow us quickly, he grows us surely.
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It’s so easy to become discouraged over the sin that remains in our lives. After many years of being a Christian, we still struggle with anger, lust, gluttony, and a catalog of other sins. Satan whispers to us, saying, “You will never be godly. You’ll never change. You’re stuck.” Our hearts get sucked into the swamps of despair as we constantly confront our weaknesses and sins.
When Satan lies to us, we can spit right back at him, “If it was up to me, I would NEVER change, but it’s not up to me. God is changing me, and he has promised to keep changing me.” Though we may not be able to see our growth, God has promised that he will cause us to grow. He will continue working in us. He will continue making us more like Jesus Christ. Sin will not win. Anger, lust, impatience, and gluttony will not have the final day. God will have the final day.
Paul boldly declares in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Jude proclaims, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” (Jude 24)
When Jesus returns, we will be sanctified in “the twinkling of an eye”. However, while we live on the earth, God works at a much slower pace. God causes us to grow in the same way a tree grows – slow and sure, almost imperceptible at times. God doesn’t change us spectacularly, but he does change us steadily. You can have confidence that he’ll continue to change you.
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Gotta go. You’re never going to believe what just happened.