Sunday, January 5, 2014

Heavy Hand or Helpful Heart?

At the end of his second book Peter instructs all of us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This growing process begins at new birth and continues on until the Lord takes us to be with Himself. We never arrive, Paul makes this very clear in Philippians 3:11-15 when he writes " if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you."

What is needed and is often lacking is real Christ-like shepherd care. What new believers need is those with a father's heart to help them grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Not simply by teaching, but by being a real spiritual father. Paul mentions this to those at Corinthian whom he had much correcting to do with, but he did it with a father's heart not only a heavy hand! He could say to them, "For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Corinthians 4:15). There are times when we need exhorting, but this doesn't mean standing over someone and telling them what they are doing wrong. Exhortation means to come a long someone to help, that is what a spiritual father does. That is what Paul did in Thessalonica. He wrote, "as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory" (1 Thess. 2:11-12). Notice comforting and exhorting go together. Also notice that while Paul spoke of himself as a spiritual father, he also describes himself to have the character of a nursing mother who cherishes her own children (1 Thess. 2:7). Both of these spiritual features are needed if we are going to help one another grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.                                                                      

Growth takes time, it takes both a quantity time for people to grow and a quality of time spent with them helping them grow. Just being a part of their lives caring for them. May we hear the voice of the Lord when He said to Peter, "Feed my lambs", "Tend my sheep", and "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).

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