Tag Archives: Progress

Encouragement for the Exercise of Faith

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If you ever peruse social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see a lot of posts about exercise. A lot.

Some are simple words of encouragement:

 

The latest trend, though, is sweaty selfies with tag lines like “I did it!” or “Almost ready for that 5k!”

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Credit: 1OpinionatedWoman

These folks are shamelessly sharing their hot-mess photos with us because they know that we’ll understand their struggles, and we’ll respect their efforts.

 

The Christian Struggle

As Christians, we have our own struggles to contend with. Physical exercise might be hard, but disciplining our minds and hearts to seek and follow the Lord can be so much harder…and yet infinitely more rewarding. That’s why the writer of Hebrews said that we should “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b NAS).

If this daily spiritual exercise is so important, why don’t we see related posts on social media?

Imagine what would happen if friends posted memes like these:

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Would you encourage these folks (“Thanks for sharing. We’ll be praying for you!”) or would you un-friend them?

Would you allow their stories to strengthen your own faith, or would you succumb to pride, judgment, and gossip?

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged,” (Matthew 7:1 NAS).

 

Let us Rejoice

We applaud anyone who performs physical exercise—regardless of how out of shape they are—because we know they can improve over time. It’s the effort that counts.

However, in our own Church family, we tend to criticize other believers who share their success stories. (“Why does she tell everyone she has a ministry degree? It sounds prideful to me!”) For those who have the audacity to admit they struggle with sin, we repay their honesty with judgment. (“I can’t believe he did that! He shouldn’t be a leader at church.”)

It doesn’t have to be this way. If the world, in its sinfulness, can celebrate the smallest improvement, then the Church, consisting of Christ-followers, can rejoice in the confessions and commitments of others to seek the Lord! In fact, since we are all members of the same body of Christ, it is our duty to uphold one another.

“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26-27 NAS).

 

Encourage One Another

I challenge you to be transparent—if not with the whole world, then at least with your loved ones. Let them know your triumphs, as well as the areas you are struggling in, and give them the opportunity to encourage you and strengthen you in prayer and support.

Likewise, if you see others sharing their hearts, take a moment to applaud their efforts. Appreciate the courage it took for them to admit they’re not perfect. Lift them up in prayer, asking for the Lord’s guidance and protection as they continue to seek after God’s perfect righteousness.

Remember, we are all part of one body. Let us be sure to encourage one another as we learn to exercise our spiritual muscles.

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13 NAS).

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Should We Seek Perfection, Progress, or Neither?

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The following blog was first posted on LiftUpYourDay.com. Click over to their site for more encouragement!


 

For years, the media has sold us an image of perfection. We idolize celebrities and models in movies, TV shows, and print ads. We envy their photo-shopped looks and overflowing bank accounts, all the while feeling totally inadequate in comparison. In response to this, the following advice has become commonplace: “Seek progress, not perfection.” Apparently, Hollywood can be perfect, but we common folk should settle for progress.

However, lately I’ve been hearing a new message: “You’re perfect just the way you are.” So, now it doesn’t matter what we say or do; we just have to wake up in the morning to be perfect. And since everyone is perfect, no one has to feel pressured to seek progress.

Each of these messages can be used to justify our actions (or lack thereof). So, what’s the truth? Do we seek perfection, progress, or neither? As Christians, we should look to the Bible for our answer.

 

Be Perfect

One of the grandest statements in Scripture is found in Matthew 5. After admonishing the disciples to love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NAS).

If we can’t even compare to celebrities, how can we be perfect as God is perfect? How should we interpret this today?

First, note that Jesus was NOT talking about heaven. He simply said the disciples would be perfect if they loved and obeyed God and loved their fellow man. As Jesus’ disciples today, this applies to us, too.

Second, the word “perfect” here is derived from the Greek word teleios, meaning “complete” or “having reached its end.” This does NOT mean that we’ll gain special powers, that we’ll stop making mistakes, or that we’ll never need to ask for forgiveness again. I will NOT become Super Woman, and you will NOT become Anne Hathaway.

However, this Scripture DOES mean that we’ll become complete, mature versions of ourselves—the epitome of what God intended us to be when He created us. I’ll be the perfect me, and you’ll be the perfect you.

 

Make Progress

I’ve heard parents say they wish their children could remain babies forever, but they don’t really mean that. Instead, they want what is best for their children: for them to grow and mature until they realize their full potential as adults. As our Heavenly Father, God wants the same thing for us!

Paul explained that we must “grow up in all aspects into Him” (Ephesians 4:15 NAS). He then said that we should use our talents and the roles God gives us within the Church Body “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 NAS, emphasis mine).

The word “mature” here is the same word teleios meaning, “perfect, complete, having reached its end.” In other words, we should strive toward righteousness, obedience, and unity, growing in the knowledge of the Lord until the whole Church Body is where it should be.

This act of maturing, of perfecting, is not a one-time activity! It is not relegated to the point of salvation, baptism, or confirmation. Instead, it covers a lifelong pursuit of God and His holiness in our lives.

And God expects us to make progress.

 

Progress in the Pursuit of Perfection

God is not concerned with the world’s definition of perfection, and neither should we. The media’s messages might tickle the ears, but they are empty of real truth. God’s message is much more meaningful and valuable! His Word says that we should seek Him first, and that we should strive to be what He made us to be so we can do what He’s called us to do.

In other words, we should make progress in the pursuit of God’s perfection.

If this is a new concept for you, I encourage you to study these verses and meditate on their meaning. If you feel convicted to make progress in your spiritual life, ask the Lord what steps you should take. Then, stand in faith that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6b NAS).


I’d love to know your thoughts on this post! Have you struggled with the concept of perfection? Is the idea of progressing in your journey a new one for you? Please leave a comment or send me a private message. Thanks for reading BigSisterKnows!