Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
No matter how strategically I select bananas before buying them, one or two inevitably seem to go from ripe to rot overnight. And that got me thinking: As a believer, the other side of ripe is rot, so we ought never see ourselves as ripe. Rather, we should remain in a perpetual state of growth all the way into glory. The only time we are to be ripe is when we are in heavenly glory, where there will be no more rot!
Here is the best way I know how to explain the lifelong process of sanctification, and I hope it will underscore my assertion that we are always to see ourselves in the process of growing and never as fully ripe. None of us has ever loved the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength for a single moment—let alone a day, week, month, or a year. To learn to love God at this level does not happen because we memorize a few Scripture verses, complete our daily devotions, and enter our prayer closet on a regular basis. It is only by living in intimate relationship with our Triune God every moment of our lives that we even begin to plumb the depths of what it means to truly love our God.
This too must be kept in view: Our ability to love God is always according to the grace He has given to us, and God’s grace is not delivered according to any schedule of ours. We are in His process and on His timetable, and we must always remember that we will never “arrive” on this side of the grave. We must never think, even for a moment, “I’ve made it!” There will always be another twist or turn in the road that we do not expect and are not ready to navigate, so we must never allow ourselves to think that our lives are on some kind of cosmic cruise control.
Let me encourage you with this final thought: The most important thing for the disciple of Jesus to consider is not the distance that has been traveled since the day salvation. Rather, it is about the direction in which we are heading. To measure a life well-lived coram Deo (before the face of God), we never measure its duration; we only look at its donation. Every day we are above ground, we are to be donating our lives to something. The question we need to ask ourselves and answer is, “To what or to whom am I giving?”
I heard a man say, “Either you’re green and growing or ripe and rotting.” Those who believe themselves to be ripe stop growing, and from that point on, rot rapidly begins. But the committed disciple of Jesus Christ will always remember the truth that God is not finished with us yet . . . and for that we are to be eternally grateful!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!