This week, another pastor and I were talking about the analogy of faith as a muscle that needs to be regularly exercised in order to grow. This is based upon the simple understanding that true faith is living faith, as opposed to the dead faith warned against in James 2. True faith, because it is living, is continually being exercised toward progress in Christ-likeness. Unpredictably, this morning, I was reading through 2 Peter and noticed this devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada in the Beyond Suffering Bible.
Candy, a fellow quadriplegic, was my exercise partner in physical therapy. Every day the physical therapist positioned our wheelchairs in front of a wall of weights and pulleys for an hour of strenuous exercise. I remember sweating and straining while Candy merely played with lifting weights, not taking the task of physical therapy seriously.
Years later, when I returned to the hospital for a check-up, I ran into Candy. I was shocked. Her arms were thin, and the she looked weak and tired. As quadriplegics, we both had the same potential for gaining strength. But from lack of exercise, her muscles had atrophied and were useless.
There are many Christians who are like Candy—they play around, believing that the Christian life will just “happen” to them without any real commitment or tough obedience. As a result, they have very little power in their lives or stamina when the hard times hit. For this very reason, we must make every effort to remain strong in the Lord. Growth doesn’t just happen; we grow only when we exercise our faith. Are you growing stronger in Christ?
This weekend, spend time meditating upon 2 Peter 1:3-11. Ask yourself some questions, like:
- What has God given me for my growth (vv. 3-4)?
- Am I utilizing all these resources to grow in godliness?
- As I look at my life, do I see steady progress in spiritual, Christ-like virtues?
- Am I making every effort to grow spiritually?
- What character qualities mentioned in verses 5-7 are evident in my life? Which are lacking?
- What does spiritual growth lead to (v. 8)?
- What does lack of growth reveal about a person (v. 9)?
- How is steady progress in godliness related to assurance of faith? What might the absence of an increase in these qualities reveal about the genuineness of a person’s salvation? (v. 10)
- What eternal reward does God promise to those who persevere in the pursuit of godliness (v. 11).
Spend time in prayer. Thank God for the resources that He gives to all those who are in Christ. Confess sins and spiritual laziness to Him. Ask Him to strengthen you in the inner person so that you may persevere in growth. Tomorrow, go to church expecting God to speak to you from the Bible so that your faith muscles may be exercised toward growth.