January 30, 2012

Growth Is Gradual

Philippians 3:10-14

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Philippians 3:12


The Spanish musician Pablo Casals was one of the most accomplished cellists of all time. His commitment to practicing the cello illustrates the importance of perseverance. Though Casals had mastered the cello, he continued to practice for three hours every day, even when he was elderly. When he was 93 years old, someone asked him why he practiced so much. He responded, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”

How much improvement do you see in your life when it comes to spiritual growth? God’s plan for every believer is that they advance in their spiritual life. Like Paul, we ought to strain, in God’s strength, for greater spiritual maturity. It’s striking that Paul should feel that way, since he had already gone through many challenges and triumphs in his journey with Christ. Think of his dramatic conversion (Acts 9), the persecutions he faced, or his vision of paradise (2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10). We might think Paul would have been satisfied (and worn out) by his career as a missionary, but he yearned for even more.

Paul longed for more because the Spirit at work in him was gradually making him like Christ and filling him with the desire to serve God with his whole being, as Jesus did. In Christlike humility Paul knew he had further to grow, and that in Christ’s strength he could “press on.”

Lord, no matter how far we have traveled with you, we still have far to go. Help us to grow in faith each day. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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