Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Saint!

Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3: 10-12, quoting Psalm 34:12-16).

In the last couple of weeks I have been pondering the idea of sin. Over the past five years I have gone through different ideas of what the rigteousness of God looks like in the believer. I have believed before that we will never be good enough, but God for the sake of Christ simply endures our pitifulness and wretchedness. In essence, he holds His nose as He draws us close. Then I came to understand that a believer has become the righteous of God in Christ Jesus because the One who was truly righteous became sin for us. So we are not putrid to Him. Christ was the firstborn of many brethren. So having more rightly understood our position in Christ I then turned to our progression in Christ. “When will I reach the point in which the same old sins do not bother me anymore, Lord?” I understood that I was dead to sin but alive to God. “So, Father, why did I think that thought or say that harsh word or use that critical tone of voice or get so jealous about what that person has or knows?”

Now that I am approaching the age of thirty (only nine more months to go) I feel the need to take stock of whence I have come these last 29 years. Indeed in terms of wisdom, Christianity, economic state, and knowledge I am much better off than when I began. Most of the improvement has happened during the eight years I have been married. But now, this close to 30, I am still not where I expected myself to be. I am still a jealous person. I am still very much a prideful person. I despise looking foolish. I am still a selfish person, with my time and my possessions alike. So when does the lightening bolt strke, Lord? When does the childishness suddenly dry up? When do I miraculously become like the men of God I know and respect? “Honey, could you reach back there and flip my spiritual maturity switch?”

I came to a wonderful realization recently. I say wonderful because I particularly think it is wonderful because of the type of person I am. I am moved by the idea of doing battle. I believe that is part of the reason I am enamored with the Romans. They were a great people that conquered practically the entire known world. And they lived for glory in battle. Something about that resonates with me, even though I am a soft modern American who sits comfortably at a desk in an air conditioned room day after day. But that aside, my realization was this:

Righteous living is not a sudden cure that is administered upon spiritual maturity or a plane one finally reaches; it is a daily fight!

Truly, the “full armor of God” has never made more sense than it does now. The charge to daily take up my cross and follow Christ has never had more application for me than it does now. Furthermore Spiritual maturity is a continuum. There are not two classes of believers in which some are officially (stamped and approved) spiritually mature and then others are not. It is not as though some have finally graduated from God University with a B.S. degree in True Righteousness and Holiness. There are some who are indeed more spiritually mature and that maturity is spurred on and maintained and increased by daily strengthing oneself in the Lord through prayer, Bible study, worship, and communication with the Father.

And let me clarify what I mean by “spiritual maturity”. Rather I will attempt to clarify because it is not an altogether concrete term. As I set out to write this I kept stating the topic in my mind as spiritual maturity and when I decided to define the phrase, I could not satisfactorily do so. Because we are different people with different strenghts, weaknesses, and temptations how maturity is manifested will look different. I do not mean to sound so “relative” but when are all at different points along the road (think Pilgrim’s Progress) then it stands to reason that we will all be looking to differing levels of maturity. I suppose a good definition of spiritual maturity in the Christian sense would be “the state in which a Christian has manifestly progressed in his understanding of God, the scriptures and his relationship to others so as to be more like Jesus Christ in the area of life that is in question.” I use the word “progressed” in the first part to indicate that further progression make take place and that any given level of spiritual maturity is merely a snapshot along the way and may look different (hopefully better) tomorrow.

What I have said so far probably sounds like a million sermons you have heard before. I have also heard them. But for me this is different. The realization I have come to may only matter to me and I may not be expressing it properly because it is almost an intangible knowing. But I know that the moment I figured out that righteous living is a fight then I stopped looking for and longing for something that will hopefully happen to me. It is something that has been bestowed by grace through faith in Christ and I must hold fast to it. I have to fight off and defend myself, I guess, against those fiery darts of temptation and fleshliness. All the while I will be advancing and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against me and the millions of other believers like me.

Whew! I feel like getting into fisticuffs. Anybody wanna fight?

Josh H.


1 Response to “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Saint!”

  1. March 16, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    These are some good thoughts, and they didn’t sound like a million sermons I have heard before until you mentioned it, and then all of a sudden they seemed somewhat familiar. Good job of putting a fresh spin on these ideas.

    I think the Christian life is somewhat of a microcosm of Israel taking the Promised Land. It was theirs, sure enough, but they had to oust the current inhabitants and make sure they left none of the pagan occupants breathing, or they would come back and bite them in the hiney.

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