Thinking today about a person in my life that I’ve been trying to encourage. She has started to come to church, attended the new members class and has been getting more and more involved; but there is a little disconnect … it seems…between what she’s learning and what she’s portraying at work. My heart grieves for her because she’s had a long year…she lost a father she’s really close to and is under quite a bit of strain at work. I don’t know her heart…or what God is doing in and through her…but it would be easy to say I haven’t seen any growth in her…if I didn’t see that it’s easier for her to talk about the Lord now than when I first went to work…she asks for prayer…she talks about church and the messages and serving…so there is SOME growth. But say I didn’t really see growth like I think should be there after almost a year of going to church. What would that say?
It got me to thinking about my own growth…how do I measure growth in myself? Is it something I and others see or is it sort of nebulous and out there? Do we see growth in others or only know our own growth? I mean, I don’t know your heart…I know what I see.. . do I judge your growth by how often you go to church, or whether or not you give to your church, or whether or not you serve in your church or your community, or whether or not you pray, or whether or not you read your Bible, or whether or not you hold your tongue, or whether or not you use profanity? Most of those things I never know. God says we can be judged by our fruit…but to be honest, who wants to be judged by love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, self-control, faithfulness, and gentleness? I think we’d all pretty much fail…don’t you? Even if we are those things on the outside…what are we thinking on the inside?
I hope that someday I will totally realize how far I have to go…I’m beginning to understand…that my own growth really cannot be seen by others unless I make a concerted effort to display those things. And…if I’m making a concerted effort to display them….does that make me a hypocrite because I really am not that way all the time or on the inside?
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I have people tell me, “You are so calm!” I suppose that could be “peaceful.” But if I’m not calm on the inside and display calmness on the outside in order to defuse the situation or encourage you to calmness…is that true calmness? Now I feel like the Apostle Paul with my circular thinking…but I think these are important questions to ask ourselves. Before I judge someone else as having “not grown” let me look a little closer to home and judge my own heart and it’s growth. Do I look more like Christ today than I did a year ago? A month ago? A day ago? What does my neighbor think? Am I blameless as Daniel was before his contemporaries?
O Lord, help me to pray for those around me to see You and not me…and not judge others in their walk with You. Only You know their journey….I am but to encourage them and spur them on to love and good works in order to glorify our Father in Heaven.