Spiritual Growth; December 20, 2020

Philemon 1:6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Every time I read Philemon I seem to gravitate to this verse! The NIV and the Japanese parse the Greek a bit differently, but both are very enlightening. The Japanese says, “By knowing all the good things that are done among us for Christ, may your fellowship of faith be living and working.” I have liked the NIV because of the implication – true enough – that sharing faith deepens both faith itself and understanding of what it brings, but I like the Japanese too, because knowing what our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing for Him and for His kingdom encourages us to be active in our own faith, exercising and sharing it. It is a blessed and glorious cycle, building up the Body of Christ. I am reminded of a small poster on the wall at the front of the nursing school classroom where I teach. It simply has two mathematical formulas: 1.01365 = 37.8 and 0.99365 = 0.03. It is a reminder that a small difference, repeated consistently, makes a huge difference. That’s the power of recursion, something feeding into itself. When we know more we do more, and when we do more, we know more. The point is, we are to keep growing! If we fail to do so, the negative of those two formulas kicks in, and spiritually speaking, that’s bad indeed.

This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone. My spiritual growth hasn’t been consistent or smooth, but at least I’ve had a long time to do it! However, the thing for me to remember is never to let up, to coast, so to speak. I am to keep pressing in for more of my Lord, of His Spirit. I am to be active in sharing my faith, and I am to be aware of all that God is doing through those around me. As a pastor, one of my major challenges is helping believers understand the practical reality of this principle. It is very sad how few really grasp the importance and benefit of consistent daily devotions. It might be just 1.0001, but if applied consistently it makes a huge difference. It may seem like just “going through the motions” at first, or even from time to time, when you hit spiritual rough spots, but consistency is very valuable indeed. Sometimes you can look back and realize that in those lowest moments, God was laying a very deep foundation in your soul. I don’t think I’ve missed daily devotions more than once or twice for the past 48 years. That doesn’t make me special, it makes me blessed, and I desire such blessing for all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed keep growing in Christ, and encourage those around me to do likewise, so that together we may be the children that You desire, for the sake of Your kingdom and 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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