May we all resolve to make personal spiritual growth our top priority in 2017. Prayerfully consider where you are in the normal (I won’t call this natural – it’s far from natural) progression of spiritual growth, and prayerfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit with regard to how you can move to the next level, so you can be “more productive and useful … in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then “work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen.” Work hard to progress to the next level and experience a deeper level of intimacy with our Lord and Savior. Say “Yes, my Lord” every time he gently prompts you, just as you did when he first gave you the faith to believe (2 Peter 1:1, Ephesians 2:8).
That’s how we break through the wall of patient endurance into godliness. I believe most of us hit a wall of patient endurance, and this is when we are most vulnerable. This is when we are at greatest risk of throwing in the towel, wandering in the wilderness, or self-medicating to avoid thinking about it. This is where many fall away (2 Peter 1:10). I speak from experience.
When that one good thing that we want so bad doesn’t come, what are we going to do? Will we say in our hearts “God doesn’t hear,” or “God doesn’t care,” or question “Why doesn’t God want me to have this?” Or will we say “I will honor you as God because you are God and you are worthy of my praise no matter what.” “I will praise you and honor you with my life and follow you all my days, even if I never get this thing I want so bad. I want you more than this thing and I will live without it if that’s what you want. In fact, I don’t want it if it will come between us, if it will get in the way of intimacy between us.” If and when we reach the point where we can say this with all our heart, when we stop seeking His hand and truly start seeking His face, we push through the wall of perseverence and the fruit of godliness is birthed in our lives.
When a baker kneads dough, they slam it against the table, knead it with their hands and knuckles, press it, roll it out, and roll it up again. But kneading the dough is a crucial step that strengthens gluten strands and gives the bread structure (allrecipes.com). Knowing that God is working godliness into our lives through painful circumstances can help us stay focused on the end and endure the process.
So whether you are making your way through a crowded market with a cart full of groceries and a gagle of adventurous youngsters, or getting up to venture out into the cold and spend another eight hours at a seemingly insignificant job, or finally hanging that picture that your wife has asked you to hang countless times, let your focus not be on the process, but on the fact that God will use the process to work godliness into your life as you patiently endure. Let us say with all our hearts, “Yes, my Lord.” “I will gather provisions for my family.” “I will earn an income for my family and honor your name by doing the best job I can.” “I will gladly serve my wife in this small way and imitate You, the One who came to serve.” And by so doing, it will suddenly dawn on us that the next level of spritual growth, true brotherly affection, is being birthed in our lives.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3-11 NLT