As the character of Christ becomes ours, maturity comes. Character is revealed in the midst of trials. It is then, that it is formed as well. Our faith is tested and patience is produced. We are placed in situations just to know we do not react the way we used to. We also recognize the areas in which we are not yet changed.
To be the way we are, while knowing we are not yet as we will be, keeps us hungry for more. We yearn to be whole. We look forward to what is to come. Our transformation appears to be slow, when in fact, it’s more than we can grasp. We often do not see ourselves maturing when we are going through the process. It’s after something has changed in us that we notice it has happened. Pride might cause us to see maturity when it’s not really there, while humility prevents us from recognizing our development.
In the Lord we are complete, fulfilled spiritually as we grow into that fullness. We grow because we sense something is missing, and we long for it to be realized. The trials we face will be used by God to show forth His glory. Christ will fulfill the work He has begun in us. Let’s consider not only what was, or what is, but also what will be, from glory to glory!
James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
The more we humble ourselves, the more grace the Lord gives us. Humility helps us confront ourselves and others. The lower we are the higher the degree of glory we walk in. It’s not something we can do ourselves; it comes from a surrendered heart.
Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. Not only are we saved by grace through faith; but the more we grow in the Lord, the more we grow in grace. As we behold Him, we are able to look at ourselves. When we can face our weaknesses, forgive ourselves of past mistakes, and realize we constantly need improvement, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. Grace then brings forth God’s perfect will in our lives.
Humility brings clarity in our decision making. If we realize we have made choices in our past outside of God’s will, we repent and receive forgiveness. With a grateful heart, we daily seek the Lord for His leading. The pride that hinders our hearing is removed when we unassumingly ask God for His will to be done in our lives. We honestly desire His ways above our own. As we humbly submit to God, we resist the devil and he flees from us. We walk from grace to grace, from faith to faith, from glory to glory.
James 4:6-7 “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
We should believe the best, and expect the best, from each other. We are part of the same team; members of the Body of Christ. We are the branches and Christ is the vine. We do not cut any branch down. We do not pick at other branches, but we pick from them. Everyone is a valuable part of the vine and we increase in value to one another.
To deprecate ourselves or others assaults the grace of God. In our process of being transformed into the image of Christ, things that have been deeply rooted in our mind, will or emotions are being pulled up by the roots. In those times we may sense emptiness, a “hanging” in a new place without feeling securely planted. We may perceive that the other branches have disconnected from us making us feel uneasy. Loneliness and a feeling of “not belonging” may try to hinder us. It’s important to recognize the changes we will go through as we learn to walk in our divine identity.
To hang in there means not to give up or give in to fear. We can hang in there when we are a branch abiding in Christ. We receive His very life and are able to trust the outcome as we bear His fruit. We can praise God for the pruning process. He lifts us up so that we may bear more fruit. He does so by pulling up by the roots, everything that has no place in our new life in Christ, from glory to glory!
John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
As Christians, we still have the nature of the old man in us, and through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit we keep it subdued by the grace of God. We put off the old man and put on the new man. When satan lies to us about who we are, we quickly put on the garments of glory we have in Christ.
To put on the new man means to invest with clothing; to sink into a garment. As we put on who we believe we now are by grace, through faith, we eventually become who we are in the Lord. We become clothed with the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The reality of the new creation that we are in Him becomes what we reach for, not the old which no longer exists. Shame, guilt and low self-esteem are put off and acceptance, forgiveness and true self-worth are put on. After the fall, Adam and Eve knew they were naked and immediately clothed themselves to hide.
In Christ, our lives are hidden in Him and we are clothed with His glory. We can do so because we are a new creation in Him. We never have to hide, but can always abide. We do not have to fear, but keep our garment near. With our garments of glory we also cover others when the enemy tries to strip them with his lies. We put on love, from glory to glory!
Ephesians 4:22-24 “… that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Are we better than someone else? More knowledgeable? More anointed? More right? More holy? The moment we think we are “more” than others, we find out that pride goes before a fall. As we are transformed into the image of the Lord, we become less and He becomes more!
The self-righteous attitude says: I’m perfect and you’re not; I’m a true Christian and you’re not; I’m not wrong but you are. It places self on the throne and makes others less in order for them to be more. To confront others who have that attitude, we have to pray for them and let the Lord minister to them as He ministers to us. It’s a challenge not to fight back in the flesh when we are being judged wrongly. Recognizing we do not war against flesh and blood helps us shake the dust off our feet. We walk in forgiveness with others and ourselves.
We evaluate ourselves honestly and prayerfully. It’s Christ in us who is awesome and is to be recognized in others as well. We are, above all, to walk in love with one another strengthening and encouraging each other, even when it’s not reciprocated. As members of the Body of Christ we all need and complement each other; not one gift is more important than another. To deprecate ourselves or others is to come against the grace of God. Whatever comes to put us down is not of God. He lifts us up in Him, fills us with His love and transforms us, from glory to glory!
Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”