My accountability group is phenomenal. I don’t know what I’d do without those guys. Some weeks we’re able to come together and celebrate a solid week. Sometimes we come in with sunken shoulders, hesitant to admit a colossal crash-and-burn. It is when the latter occurs that the guys and I are quick to intervene and stop a certain vicious cycle: self-deprecation. I hate seeing it. I shouldn’t be one to talk, since I do it myself whenever I stumble, but beating yourself up only makes the situation even more deplorable. There’s the unavoidable thought of “I did that…again,” as if we’re somehow surprised by the extent of our own fallibility.

Apparently, an expectation exists: we will eventually arrive at some level of maturity or self-control. We’ll finally “get it.” There’s no basis for this in the Bible…at least, not while our feet are still locked on this earth. John 9 reminds us about how faith is a journey. We see this in the blind man’s spiritual progress from the time Jesus heals him to the eventual reunion with Christ face to face. Nicodemus is also an example of faith as a journey throughout the entire Gospel of John. First, we see him as a man of the Pharisees, and the last time John mentions him, he is assisting Joseph in burying the body of the crucified Christ.

Why is this important? Well, there are two implications: one for how we view ourselves and the other for how we treat individuals. For ourselves, this means we should never feel like we’ve “arrived” at some sort of spiritual perfection; instead, we should humbly realize that we are forever in need of God’s patience and guidance. We also should not kick ourselves when doubt arises, especially when we consider that a lot of people stood face to face with Jesus Christ and still didn’t believe instantaneously (or ever). A little self-patience is in need of being employed. Likewise, in our interactions with others, we are to exhibit patience and communicate love and understanding to them when they falter or waver in their journey. Conversion is not a one-and-done sort of thing, despite what we may have grown up being taught. True change is a long ordeal—a process that requires somebody walking alongside you the entire way because as we all know too well, we aren’t very good at holding ourselves up on our own. To expect anyone to, at some point, obtain a firm grasp on avoiding sin and mistakes is to fill the shoes of the most obnoxious hypocrite.

You see, you and I are works in progress, and we always will be. I take Philippians 1:6 to mean just that, where Paul said, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Christ doesn’t expect us to have it figured out yet, so neither should we put that on others. We know what such grace looks like coming from God’s end of things, but what does it look like coming from us when it’s aimed and directed at other people?

Much love.

  1. Jan said:

    Kuddos, Nelson! If you can learn, and apply, this lesson at your age your life will go much more smoothly than mine has. I believe that my generation learned to revel in, and believe in, righteousness-by-flagellation! We needed to “pay” for our sins which, of course, totally negates Christ’s death. Morons! Oh well, really love this grace concept – it will take a long time to sink in but I’m working on it. Continue the great blog!


    • Ron said:

      Nelson you hit the nail on the head this time. I am nearing 60 and have been a Christian since I was 16. One might think of me as one of those “mature” Christians. By now I should have being Christ like down. Well here is the deal. It has never been nor will it ever be what we are capable of. As if at some point our “Jesus savings account” is full and now we have the strength over sin. On my own, after being a Christian for over 40 years, I am but 1 step from falling. It is and always be about faith in our Lord and Savior, about His strenght within us. That’s the deal. If there is something to feel bad about, something to kick ourselves about, let it be for simply not being faithful. Most times our memories are no better than God’s chosen people as they wandered the desert.

  2. Daniel said:

    Great post Nelson. As Romans 8 points out, we have been predestined into the likeness of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, we are continually being formed into the likeness of Christ, it doesn’t happen overnight. God has always considered faith much more important than following a list of rules. Look at who He chose and praised in the O.T. Abraham, Moses, David, Jacob, men who had plenty of faults, Moses and David were murderers, but it was their faith not how well they kept the Torah, that they are remembered for. As Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” God sees us as perfect through Christ, but Satan sure does a good job keeping us in guilt. And when we feel guilty, we are more apt to judge others to make ourselves feel better.

  3. Right on, Nelson. It’s a wise thing to be aware of sinful nature and propensity to continually fall. It’s even wiser to not set yourself up for disappointment by expecting that you’ll never sin and falter.

    Wish I could say that I’m always prepped to fail or prepped for the mental anguish of failing but I can’t. Not sure what the exact posture should be regarding this. Anyone know?

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