STUMBLING TOWARD PERFECTION
The Proverbs of Solomon are a source of constant wisdom. In fact, “Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser” (Proverbs 1:2, 5 NLT).
So, in my personal Bible reading, I turn often to this book and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate these truths to my mind/heart. This verse captured my attention recently.
“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16 NLT).
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (KJV).
A foundational Biblical understanding of a personal encounter with Christ (revelation, repentance, restoration) assures the petitioner that the result is JUSTIFICATION.
“Therefore , since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and so we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2 MEV, emphasis mine).
(also see Galatians 3:24; Titus 3:7).
Justification is the formal acquittal of sin. Or, as one theologian said, “Just-as-if it had never been there”.
Positionally, before the Heavenly Father, at that very moment, I am without guilt or condemnation.
“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 MEV). (also see Romans 8:1-2)
But, now comes the challenge. How do I actualize that spiritual experience in daily living? Growing, developing, maturing in the faith walk is an important Scriptural truth.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory, both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18 MEV, emphasis mine). (also see Ephesians 4:11-16)
Absolute perfection in this earthly life? No one of us can ever achieve such a noble goal. The Adamic nature constantly haunts us. This brief moment in our eternal history is probationary. It is, as it were, “basic training” that frequently requires strenuous tests and strict discipline
By definition the words “fall” or “trip” imply two specific things:
- To be knocked down or tripped by some outside intervention
(i.e., the devil or someone acting on his behalf).
- To come short of the desired goal
(i.e., yield to the pressure of evil temptation).
Honest evaluation requires an admission that at some point in our walk of faith, we all know the reality of being less than spiritually mature. Perhaps we were disciplined enough to control our external behavior; perhaps not. If our choices are flawed, it inevitably has a negative impact on the desired spiritual progress. Of even greater challenge in our pursuit toward Godly growth and development is what occupies our thought patterns.
“For out of the abundance of the heart (thoughts/attitudes/motives) the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Jesus–Matthew 12:34-35 MEV, additions mine).
Motives (hidden, inner thoughts) were significant in the ministry of Jesus. For example, the major thrust of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) was about motivation. Jesus did not condemn good works or obedience to the Law of Moses. What was penetrating to those who professed to be spiritual leaders were his divine insight into what was in their heart-of-hearts. While motivation guides the thought process, it can often be secretly maintained internally, with little expression given externally. Perhaps the private part of us demands stricter discipline and constant monitoring to prevent stymied progress toward greater spiritual maturity.
But, the wisdom from Solomon is that a righteous person will not give up when they stumble or stumble or stumble–even seven times!
- No turning around because the faith walk is too difficult
- No assuming that following Christ is no longer worth the effort.
- No wallowing in self-pity.
- No stopping to justify bad personal choices/behavior.
- No finger pointing at others to distract from self.
- No lashing out angrily and vowing to get revenge.
- No accusations against the Almighty.
The righteous will get up and keep moving toward the eternal goal.
Stumbling? Yes! Abandon the spiritual race? Never.
So, if you have been knocked down, tripped up, feel like a total failure–don’t quit.
The hand of the Lord is reaching for you.
His plan is to empower you with grace and strength.
Get up. Keep moving forward.
You do not have to repeatedly make the same mistakes.
There is a glorious throng of heavenly “witnesses” who completed the journey. It can be done! (Hebrews 12:1-2).
but kept getting up…
all the way to glorious perfection!!