Plod and Progress

“And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus…

“And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

“And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul… So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” Acts 19:1-5,8-11,20

Paul, whom God drastically saved and then transformed through a season of communion with Himself, knew the importance of gradual learning. He took time with the disciples, he asked and answered questions, he reasoned and persuaded, he spoke life-changing truth with boldness, consistency, and persistence. Paul taught intuitively, taking new believers step by step in understanding and process. (Galatians 1:11-18)

The Christian life is an ongoing exhale of what was and inhale of our new creation, learning to breathe and live as a child of God. Line upon line, precept upon precept, we take in, digest, and appropriate God’s word. We grapple, seek, discover, and apply. While we are counted righteous in Christ upon belief, our sanctification is an ongoing process in which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to become like our Savior. (Genesis 15:6; Psalm 17:15; Isaiah 28:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21)

In our Christian journey, do we expect immediate removal of temptation, inside-out change in ungodly attitudes and proclivities? Do we berate ourselves, and envy, when others seem to conquer sin habits more readily than we? Are we willing to put in the work necessary for consistent growth and Christ-likeness? How diligent are we in the disciplines that redirect, renew, and retrain us? Our walk is a continual putting off and putting on that requires diligence and holy desire. (Colossians 3:1-17; 1 John 3:2-3)

How about others? Do we share Paul’s eagerness to help those younger in faith? Do we grow impatient when they don’t understand or make immediate life changes we would prescribe as vital? Do we criticize when they don’t appear to take holiness seriously, or demean or chide or nag when their resolve is weak? How could we come alongside to explain, encourage, and plod forward together with Christ? (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Father, thank You for Your patience with me. Help me steadily progress with You, and graciously bring others along, so Your word increases and mightily prevails, to the praise of Your glory.

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