Bev, my late wife, was not much given to silliness and when I would joke in a manner which she found childish, when she had enough of it, I would hear – “Jerry, just grow up!” A few days ago, while I was playing with some children at church, using my smartphone to create silly faces with filters on SnapChat, I could have almost sworn I heard an echo in my head of her voice – “Jerry, grow up!” There is a time to play like a child and there is a time to get serious and ‘grow up.’
God’s desire is maturity so that our faith in Christ Jesus will produce real and lasting change – in us and in the world in which we live. “So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NLT)
When we trust Jesus as our Savior, leaning completely on His grace, our sins are forgiven. That is the Gospel! We do not save ourselves for if we could then, as Paul says, we would have reason to boast. Jesus saves us completely. There is a completion to His work at the Cross in our lives that demands our participation. The death and resurrection of Jesus transform us. Peter says that “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4, NIV) It’s time to ‘grow up.’ We need not remain spiritually childish, incapable of sustaining commitment, without the ability to discern between right and wrong, captive of every whim. The life of the Spirit will make us “productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8, NLT)
There is the choice to live for moral excellence. We desire the life of Christ, the purity of heart that is found in Him. We refuse to demean others, to gossip, to lust, to remain greedy, to measure our success by the things we own or the clothes we wear. That choice is supported by becoming an intimate friend of God. Prayer is a daily choice. We meditate in Scriptural truth. We worship 7 days a week, not just one!
From that inner transformation comes self-control. We no longer allow ourselves to be held in the grip of anger, hatred, or apathy. Our mind becomes spiritual, made alive to God, the Holy Spirit, and we live in an awareness of His Presence, all of the time. That person who knows self-control, is able to steadily do the will of God. He practices the disciplines of the Spirit regularly, not just when he feels like it or when he is shamed into it. The word in the original text that translated as ‘patient endurance’ is hupomone, which literally means ‘to stand under’ referring to a person who gets under a load and lifts it to carry it. Maturity calls us to stick with Jesus’ call when it goes against our comfort, that we serve when it is inconvenient, that we love when it is costly to Self.
The evidence of our maturity is not our mastery of finer points of theology, though that may happen. Peter says that maturity is visible in our godliness. We could us the word ‘piety’ here. Mature Christians are truly holy, lifting others into God’s Presence without a word just by being in the same room! What a blessed thing, to honor Him, to make Him known, by carrying His presence with us wherever we go. Mere religion does not have this authentic quality nor is it inviting. Religiosity, a scrupulous attention to rules, makes us judgmental and unloving. True godliness, Peter says, fills us with ‘brotherly kindness.’ We pull people together and focus their attention, not on us, but on the Spirit of God who lives in us.
Are you growing up in Christ? Here is the word from the Word, that same passage from 2 Peter, from The Message. “So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, The Message)
(a song of adoration and invitation)
There’s nothing worth more that will ever come close
No thing can compare You’re our living hope
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
In Your Presence Lord
Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord
Your Presence Lord
Oh God how we love Your Presence Lord
Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
Bryan Torwalt | Katie Torwalt © 2011 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Jesus Culture Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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