God’s Part and Our Part; December 23, 2018

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Christian living is always a tension between what God has already done for us in Christ and our part in laying hold of that gracious provision. This verse talks about what God has already given us, but then Peter goes on to talk about all the things we need to do in the process, specifically saying “make every effort.” (verse 5) We tend to trip up on both sides of that equation, either failing to believe that God has really provided everything we need, or else getting spiritually (or physically) lazy and failing to hold up our end of the deal. We are indeed totally dependent on God’s grace, but at the same time we aren’t to be passive. Human language becomes contradictory if we try to talk about it, with Hebrews saying things like “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:11) By definition, rest is the opposite of effort! One thing we discover is that whereas our effort is called for, it is never enough by itself; we will always fail if we don’t recognize our dependence on God. That is why legalism is so deadly: it tries to replace God’s grace with rules. It’s really much easier to have a set of rules and just go by them, letting routine ritual replace active commitment, but Church history is littered with the wreckage caused by people who have lived that way. We need to keep pressing in, recognizing that God wants all of us and that we aren’t fully there yet, just as Paul recognized. (Philippians 3:12-14)

This is certainly the story of my life! Verse 9 was powerfully instrumental in freeing me from a besetting sin, but I still have weakness in that area. God has poured His blessings out on me, but I haven’t been the most faithful of stewards. I know full well that God has already provided more than I could ask or think, (Ephesians 3:20) but I teeter in the balance between anxiety and presumption. God has told me personally to rest, relax, and rejoice, but at the same time I recognize the dangers of presumption and laziness. I’ve got to trust Him, because I’m certainly not trustworthy! This Christmas two major items were taken off of my schedule, which has made it easier for me, but that hasn’t made much of a dent on the pressures Cathy feels. Many people have been, are being, and will be blessed by all she has done and is doing, but in the process she wears herself out. That’s something over which I have little or no control. I am to support her, as God shows me and she allows me to do, but it can be a real test of my own faith and obedience. Today we have the 4th Advent service, and then tonight we go caroling, and tomorrow we have the Christmas Eve candlelight service. God has already provided everything necessary for all of it, but I’ve got to be intentional in listening to Him and doing things as He says, and not according to either habit or anxiety.

Father, thank You for continuing to stretch, grow, and train me, even when I complain about the process. I pray that I would indeed trust Your provision totally while being fully faithful in my response, expressing love by obedience, (John 14:15) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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