Pastor in the pasture: Short Term Growth Is Hard To See
As a rancher and producer of beef it’s good to see calves growing and putting on weight. We see them hit the ground and before we know it we’re at branding season. Another blink of the eye, it seems, and you’re watching semi trucks strain under the weight they are carrying during shipping season. Yes, it’s good to see calves growing. However, if you took a look at a calf today and came back tomorrow to gauge his growth you wouldn’t notice a big change. If you put him on the scale you might see a difference between yesterday and today. Even that would be minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
Watching our children grow we can see a little of the same. There was an exposed 2×4 on the end of the wall at a house we used to own. On that 2×4 were marks of our sons growth over the years. It wouldn’t be very noticeable to have a mark today and one tomorrow. However, over time you can see the definite change. You compare that 3 year old mark with that 14 year old mark and you’ll notice a big difference!
Sometimes we measure our own spiritual growth in Christ in too short of a time frame. A good example might be to look at today. You were doing good this morning by getting up early, reading God’s Word, and spending some time in prayer. Then it happened, somebody left the gate open to the horse corral and the horses are no where in sight. You read this morning: “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” in Colossians 3:8. Now as you’re cussing and kicking the dirt about not having horses up you wonder what happened.
Or, you walked through the door at work and the boss put that extra load on you. You remember reading this morning, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23. Now it just seems like the weight of the load is starting to wear on you. You see this as one more failed attempt to grow in Christ.
So what can we do as we start a new year and wanting to see our growth in Christ?
The first and most important thing is to see spiritual growth as we would gauge those calves’ or our kids’ growth. We must see spiritual growth over some time not only in the immediate.
Secondly ask ourselves some real questions like, “Am I sinning less and less over time?”, “Am I winning in areas that were nothing but defeat in the past?” or “Is the Holy Spirit showing me new areas that might become a danger of temptation and possible sin?”
Third thing to do is watch out for these dangers:
A.) Don’t be a recluse – it’s easy to do in our way of life. (“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)
B.) Bad habits are nothing but bad masters – You may say well I won’t become addicted or I can handle it. However that can become a bad master. (“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV)
C.) Temptation isn’t from God – “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” James 1:13-14 NIV
I hope that you will see and gauge your spiritual growth in Christ over time gaining ground in a consistent and long term view. As you go into 2019 I pray that you will see a new, life long journey and growth in Christ.
I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!