Links Daily Devotional

Are You Growing?

…your faith is growing more and more… (2 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV)

Twice last week I found myself caught in a conversation about one of the most difficult stages in a golfer’s life. It’s when age starts to steal your competitive ability. You’re hitting it shorter and lower and less consistently. It’s easy to see your game coming unraveled and—here’s the hard part—you wonder whether you really want to keep playing at all.

A similar frustration can kick in at any stage of our golfing life, however. We may not see a decline in our game, but neither do we see advancement. And when you don’t see growth, it’s easy to start looking elsewhere.

Maybe this is why you hear so much talk about process these days. Athletes and the aides they employ wax favorably about “sticking to the process.” There’s good reason for this: results can be deceptive.

Some days, in spite of all the hard work, you’re going to put up an ugly number—and in doing that, you may throw up your hands and say, “How is this even worth it?”

Other days, you may shoot one of those glorious rounds when most shots look good and even those that don’t are erased by what we might call, after Sunday’s win at Innisbrook, a Spiethian recovery. At times like this, you may be tempted to forgo your usual after-round practice session (the process) and enjoy an extra round inside.

Now, that’s a lot of golf discussion, but you surely must recognize similarities to the development of your faith, or what we often call “spiritual growth.” If we get too focused on good days and bad days as far as our visible righteousness is concerned, we can quickly drift into discouragement or ease. Our eyes land on what we have done or not done and drifted from the work of Christ in us.

This work of Christ is generally too slow for our liking, particularly our penchant for measurement. How do we know we’re growing if we can’t see any difference in the way we are living? But we might ask a powerful counter question: how do we know we’re growing just because we see a difference in how we are living? Remember, there are any number of humanist approaches to a visible morality—none of which rely on the righteousness of Christ or the power of the Holy Spirt at work in us.

Look closely at 2 Thessalonians 1:3. Paul, with thanksgiving, noted the growth of the people’s faith. That is, they were growing in their belief and trust in Jesus. Their very core was being changed.

When a sport psychologist tells a golfer or any other athlete to “trust the process,” what she is saying is that the invisible work (what the fans never see) trumps the immediate result. Enjoy a good day. Don’t be wiped out by a bad one. But either way, don’t lose sight of tomorrow. There is still work to be done.

And so it is with Christ. Some days you and I will fall into painful sin. Other days we will find that righteousness flows from us without even trying, and others express real gratefulness for our help. But either way, don’t lose sight of tomorrow. We must not waver in our faith that Christ is still at work in us.

Jeff Hopper
March 18, 2015
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