Progress

<<advancement>>

Progress infers movement, even if only one-step at a time, ideally resulting in ongoing growth in good areas and a reduction in bad areas. At salvation, Christ began a good work in us; with our co-operation, He will continue the process of conforming us into His image (Rom 8:29; Phil 1:6).  This process will be completed when we meet Christ, but until then we are ‘work-in-progress’, a construction site, a vessel still on the potter’s wheel.

Advancement is hindered by resisting and not obeying the Holy Spirit or dealing with the old sinful life.

Paul said, “I press on, straining towards what is ahead” (Phil 3:12-14). He was not content with his present position in Christ, for he strove constantly

What areas am I progressing in today?

in a diligent, all-out dedication to a greater outworking of God’s purposes through his life.  Progress often means leaving something behind; as Christians the challenge for us is to lay aside all hindrances and not be entangled or sidetracked with unfruitful works (Gal 5:1; 2 Tim 2:4; Heb 12:1). We have a lot of ungodly habits and thought patterns to unlearn. Although we are born-again instantly, the problems [in our lives] didn’t develop overnight and they won’t disappear that quickly either. There is hard work required to remove and replace the wrong behaviour patterns.

Be encouraged that, as in the natural world, growth and development are progressive, taking time to be evidenced. Change is not instantaneous in our lives, small consistent measurable advances and victories over a period result in great progress (Deut 7:22; Mk 4:28,29). It is our responsibility (with His enabling) to eliminate the bad habits and destructive lifestyles of the old nature that have firmly entrenched themselves in us as we also put on the new nature (Eph 4:22-24). The Bible counsels, “Practice these things [the good habits and character qualities you desire to develop]. Devote your life to them” (1 Tim 4:15). We are instructed to walk in the newness of life in Christ, submitting to Him and not to Satan’s condemnation, to be disciplined to make constant steady progress, one small victory after another and even when a defeat occurs put the matter right and move on (Josh 7:19-8:29; Rom 6:4,11-14, 8:1-14; 1 Jn 1:9).

Although babies are cute, they take lots of attention and can’t contribute to the household, so don’t remain ‘young’ children in God but grow, develop and mature into your full potential in Him. While the fundamental, foundation truths need to be firmly entrenched in our understanding and form the basis of our faith there is so much more to comprehend if we are to be valuable servants in God’s Kingdom

It is about direction, not                               perfection

(Heb 5:11-6:1). The challenge is to grow in the grace and knowledge of God which is expressed in Christian character (1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 1:5-9, 3:18). It doesn’t matter so much where we are in life, but rather in which direction we are traveling – are we progressing closer to Jesus each day? If you want to be much further along the pathway this time next year, set goals and apply yourself to the task and challenges that present themselves, understanding the path of progress is always under construction.              

Moses recorded various events of the Israelites’ journey so they would be encouraged as they looked back and remembered the Lord’s hand of blessing and guidance on their lives (Num 33:2). Journaling (recording your spiritual journey, lessons, and milestones) is helpful to see the growth that has taken place as you recall the past, however, don’t be tempted to stop in your quest for more of God.

Determine to go through ‘whatever it takes’ – by pushing your comfort zone, overcoming setbacks and trying again after failure – to be all God wants you to be as our ‘achievements’ in this life prepare us for the life to come. There will always be pain and effort to advance in anything of value. Am I willing to make that sacrifice? What measurable progress am I making in knowing Jesus more intimately?

Have a goal to aim for, an objective that provides motivation (your calling in Christ), and you will gain a sense of fulfillment as progress is made, with all things serving your purpose in Him. Break tasks into smaller manageable chunks and reward yourself when they are achieved.

Steady, consistent advancement is better than spasmodic bursts. Persistence is needed to keep going when discouraged and when overwhelmed by the distance yet to travel; remember even the longest journey can be successfully completed by consistently taking one step after another, yet no progress will be made by not starting or continuing. It may be restful and safe sitting in a rocking chair but the movement doesn’t get you far, yet even a snail makes progess when moving.  

As you progress in godliness, be aware of wrong emphases that can bring you into error if you rely exclusively on them. Seeking and depending on exciting spiritual experiences to gauge your advancement, extreme, disciplined self-effort that can lead to legalism, or even an unbalanced approach to some doctrine from the Bible can all divert us from keeping Christ at the centre of our

faith and the Bible as our guidebook not an idol (2 Tim 3:16,17). Paul gave credit for his spiritual life to God, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor 15:10). It’s a partnership – God at work in us as we also work with Him (Phil 2:12,13).

See also: achievement, accomplishment, balance, comfort zone, daily walk, discouragement, effort, failure, growth, journaling, knowing God, motive/motivation, past, persevere, price, process.

 


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