Jan 4, 2015

Incremental Holiness for 2015

A friend of mine recently asked me a question. He asked if I could sense a theme of what God might be teaching me for 2015. It wasn't something I'd ever really considered before. But I think I may have identified something that I can see that God might be showing me this year.

It has to do with a phrase I came across: "Incremental Holiness" (I got it from this article:
http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/edwards-for-everyday/ )

I'll shamelessly copy and paste the part where I found the phrase.
"My professor in seminary asked us to consider a scenario: “Say I have a man whose besetting sin is sleeping around. On average, he is sleeping with  30-40 women a year. The Lord saves that man, and we walk together as brothers. During the next year of his life, he sleeps with three women. Do you condemn this man? Do you doubt his salvation or his understanding of Christ’s work? Think of the standard to which you hold him. If it is holiness, no one has met that, save Christ. If it is the progressive and saving work of the Spirit—then look at how much his life has changed from where he started.” Talk about throwing a wrench into this church kid's world.
A worldview like that—a worldview of incremental holiness—is one that recognizes dependence, inability and false righteousness. The saved man’s life is changed, and he is still in need of grace. To think of where I have come from and where I am now—gratitude grows with every dip, every bend, and every fresh recognition of grace." 
When we want to change, we usually want the change over and done with as quick as we can. We don't like to consider the possibility that significantly changing our character in one area might be a five year effort. Sometimes the Lord changes aspects of us in a hurry. Overnight even. But he is also very patient. His timetable can be a lot longer than we prefer.

So I'm trying to keep an eye out for how God might be slowly changing me and helping me grow. Just think about how long it takes a tree to grow. If you've ever looked at a cut down tree, you've seen the growth rings. The amount that a tree grew in a single year. Each year may only be a fraction of an inch. So if you see a mature tree, know that it might have taken decades to get to that point.

Galatians 5:22-23 mentions the fruit of the Spirit, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." God uses the metaphor of fruit to describe the process of growth and change in his children. Fruit takes time to grow. You get an apple years after you plant the tree. Trust God for the growth in your life. Be patient as he works in you. That's what I'm going to be focused on for the coming year.

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 1 Corinthians 3:6

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