Faith, Practice, Mirrors, and Timelines

2 Peter 1:5-10 (NASB), Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

 

In early December, I spent some time with a group of 18-20 men, we were discussing the concept of peace. Are you at peace with who you are, or, do you not like who you are?  When you sleep at night, are you truly getting rest, or do you wake up each morning not feeling rested?  What do you think about yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror?

The discussions revolved around worry, stress, anxiety, and internal conflict; how these things impact our perceptions about ourselves. Do we like the way we look or the way we feel?  Are we satisfied with our thought life, as well as our heart life?

I was reminded about some time that I had spent on this a little over a year ago. If we do not like ourselves when we look at ourselves in the mirror, what are we supposed to do with that information?  The Lord actually took this idea of the mirror one step further with me. If you don’t like who you see in the mirror, ask yourself this, do you like the person you are becoming?
 
Perhaps you don’t like who you see in the mirror today but you believe that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  Praise God for that, it’s progress!!   If you are happy with who you are becoming, then why is that not a good thing, why suffer anxiety about it today?
 
For some, it is a matter of expectations of time. You may have placed a calendar on yourself and maybe you aren’t living up to that calendar.  Rather than focusing on the timeline, we should probably focus on the process, which of course, we find within scripture, in God’s Word.
 
You are not in trouble, but yet trouble is on your mind. It is messing with your love, messing with your destiny and how you are viewing yourself. But, when you get into the Word, the Word eventually works its way into your spirit. Once it is in your spirit, its thoughts become your thoughts. It allows your mind to go through a metamorphosis.
 

Peter provides us with a list of qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-8 that we are to supplement our faith with:

  • Virtue with knowledge
  • Knowledge with self-control
  • Self control with steadfastness
  • Steadfastness with godliness
  • Godliness with brotherly affection
  • Brotherly affection with love

 

Peter tells us that these qualities are ours for the asking and will increase in us because of our faith. But if we should find any of these qualities lacking, we should practice them (v. 10), continuously.  With practice, he continues, you will be richly rewarded.  Some find this easier than others and that, my friends, is the rub for some men.
 
In Hebrews 5 (v. 11-14), we read about the maturing Christian, who, after first being born again, is like a toddler who requires milk instead of solid food. But, like a child, as we mature in our faith, we start taking in solid food. This is in reference to the degree’s of understanding scripture and the application of what He is teaching us in the Word. The writer in Hebrews tells us that with time, we ought to be matured, [through practice], enough to become teachers of the faith ourselves.  However, while rebuking the believer that they should be teachers of the faith, the writer does not place a timeline on the maturation process, the timeline is completely up to you – the believer.  For some men in particular, this can be frustrating – almost always due to ego and pride, or, lack of repentance and forgiveness, causing them to give up.
 

Too many men feel that they should be faith experts, or, that they should “see” changes within a short period of time. This is because they are comparing their ability to learn and adapt their faith with their ability to learn and adapt with their earthly endeavors – their intellect and their minds. We miss the idea that spiritual endeavors are not the same as physical endeavors. While spiritual endeavors CAN be easier, it is also the most complex – due to bad programming in the mind. Men, we need to recognize that spiritual endeavors are of the heart, not the mind. We can’t see change when we are focusing with our physical eyes, we need to learn to see with the eyes of their hearts (our eye gate).

A man matures in his faith through PRACTICE.  He practices his faith with other men, discipleship, prayer, listening to God’s voice, fellowship with other men, digging into the Word so that our spirit can soak it up. We are  training our spiritual muscle, much like we train the muscles of our bodies. It can be difficult for a man to read the bible for spiritual revelation when he has been trained to read books either for entertainment or for intellectual knowledge. We will, with practice, train our spirits to react with muscle memory, our spirit is acting before we even realize it.

With practice, the Lord will work on the man from the INSIDE and eventually work its way to the OUTSIDE.  If we view ourselves with the eyes of our heart instead of the eyes of our head, we will see that while we may not like who we see, we will like who we are becoming.  Some changes can be subtle but change is nevertheless happening.

One man said that he had to learn to trust God, that he put up a wall between he and God. This is typical for a man that has learned to trust only himself because placing trust in others has usually led to problems.  Over time, he learned to trust God and the wall eventually came down. This wall came down because the man learned, through practice, how to apply his faith to his life.

For the man that has adapted to lack of rest during sleep caused by stress, anxiety, and worry; this too goes away as we practice our faith and allow the Word to sink into our spirit. At night, while we are sleeping, our spirit is still awake – always awake – always guarding our hearts in our sleep.   How many times can you recall quoting scripture, or declaring Jesus, in your dreams?  It is an awesome experience when that happens.

Through practice, we can all learn to have faith like the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Yes, we can!!