Monday, June 25, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:9
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. - Philippians 1:6 
Sometimes I feel very discouraged with how much, or rather how little, sanctification is evident in my life. I feel like I have known Jesus for over a decade by now, and so there are some things that I should have mastered by now. But I haven't. I have had to work through trusting and resting in the Lord in every circumstance many times, and even though I see God's faithfulness so clearly each time, I still struggle to trust Him. I still struggle to love and forgive like Jesus has loved and forgiven me. And that is discouraging. Somehow, I feel like sanctification should just, you know, happen. But it doesn't.

Rather, Paul exhorts us in Philippians 4 to practice these things. When I was first beginning to learn to play piano, it would have been wonderful to just wake up and be able to play Beethoven and Chopin. But instead, it took countless hours of scales, exercises, studying theory and practicing simpler songs. It took intentional repetition and practice. It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't always fun, but it worked. I saw the fruit of my practice.

What if I approached my walk with the Lord in the same way? What if I read the command to love my neighbor like I loved myself, and rather than becoming discouraged that I don't know how to do that like I would like to, I just began to intentionally practice loving? What if I began to intentionally practice patience and prayer and memorization and serving and so many other things that I struggle with? I think that here as well I would see the fruit of practice.

But more than that, I am thankful for Paul's assurance in Philippians 1 that the Lord will, without a doubt, bring to completion the work that He began. Though I have the privilege of participating, even that participation is by His grace and it is He who finishes the work. So as I feel discouraged with where I am, I'm reminded to practice, and when I fail, to try again. But most of all, I'm reminded to rest in the completed work of Jesus that guarantees my completed sanctification. How I long for that day!

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