For what I am I was not and shall not be, and every hour I am different and never stay. For I am always moving from the day of my birth up till the day of death, and throughout the individual days of my life I change, and what things change or how they change I do not see; and I can never see my whole life in one together, and what yesterday I was, today I am not, and thus what today I am, tomorrow I shall not be...
- Columbanus, Sermon VI, Irish, 7th century
…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3.13, 14
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed that a man never steps in the same river twice. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same.
That’s the point Columbanus was making about his life, and Paul was recommending as a general outlook on our own. Like plants, growing in the spring, there’s always room for change, improvement, progress in our walk with the Lord.
We can always gain new insights and understandings, hone and strengthen our affections, firm up our values and priorities, improve our ministries, enlarge our Personal Mission Field, and acquire some new practices and skills. The Christian life is an adventure of drawing nourishment from the True Vine and translating that into vibrant life and fruit.
But many believers are too easily satisfied with where they’ve arrived, and they can lapse into complacency about growing in the faith. For many Christians, their experience of Christ is as good as it’s going to be. They see no reason to exert themselves for progress in learning, growth, service, or worship. It’s just too easy to become satisfied that our vision of the life of faith is as full as it can get, our disciplines are sufficient, and our practices – OK, they could use some improvement, but we’re no better or worse than the people we know.
But the goal of Christian growth is not to be better or worse than our fellow believers. The prize, the goal of Christian growth, is Christlikeness, being like Jesus (2 Cor. 3.12-18). Do you suppose Jesus saw the unseen world more clearly than we? Understood the Christian worldview more completely? Maintained purity and intensity of heart perhaps more consistently than we do? And walked His talk better?
Of course He did; and as Paul longed to become more like Jesus, so must we.
Let it be our goal, day by day, not to be the same people we were yesterday, and, praise God, to be different people again tomorrow as the Spirit of God transforms us increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ. Set some goals for personal growth and ministry. Discover ways of improving the use of your time. Find a prayer partner or soul friend of the same sex to encourage and pray for you as you press on to making progress in becoming more like Jesus.
The prospect of increasing in Christlikeness should challenge, thrill, and guide every one of His disciples. We can grow. We can change. We can improve. We can be more fruitful. More useful. He can increase in us even as we decrease.
This is how Jesus is filling all things in all things (Eph. 1.22, 23). By beginning with us, more and more, day after day.
There will always be more about Jesus to learn, more of Jesus to know, more ways to enjoy, serve, and proclaim Jesus. But unless we press on, we’ll never know the joy of going exceedingly and abundantly beyond where we presently are in our walk with and work for the Lord.
1. Why is it important that we “press on” in the life of faith and not allow ourselves to become complacent about growing in and serving the Lord?
2. What are some areas of your life where you would like to see improvement in knowing and serving the Lord?
Psalm 40.1-5 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save!
Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare? None with You can e’er compare.
Lord, let me grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus every day, so that I…
To help you in pressing on
Our little book, To Know Him, can help you in pressing on toward the Lord. Order your free copy by clicking here. For a broader and more long-term look at growing in the Lord, order a free copy of our book, Know, Love, Serve, by clicking here.
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.
If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.