James 1:4-5 (NIV) Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
As our family settles into our new-to-us home, a steady list of tasks is being constructed. The handyman came by last week for the first round of repairs and renovations. Before he was out the door, there were more things added to the list. I love home improvement. This house was a foreclosure bought by the family who sold it to us. They did some repairs but it is clear that somewhere in the process, they gave up. I understand as the list gets longer, it can be overwhelming. While I make one for the inside, my husband is mentally making his for the outside. Are we perfectionists? I don’t think so. We just like to take care of the things that the Lord has blessed us with. We like things done. We strive for completion. No loose ends.
When we come to Christ, it is like a foreclosure. A life lived to its own detriment suddenly surrendered to the King of Fixer Uppers. Foreclosed homes usually come in an abused and neglected state. Perhaps, it was just too much for the owner to maintain. Maybe the price of keeping it was just too high so they gave up and walked away. Perhaps they were forced out. The new owner purchases the home because they see its worth and potential underneath the disrepair and filth. Taking the time to clean it up, fix it, and restore it into a home worth living in. I believe that Jesus knows exactly what we need to be complete lacking nothing. Can you imagine complete satisfaction? Not in one thing, but all things. Such a state of contentment would allow us to live free from the burden of needing or wanting anything which in turn would eliminate the majority of our stress and worries in life. The trouble is sometimes there is a difference of opinion in what we think and what God knows will satisfy our soul. Things will never make us complete. People will never satisfy our full expectation. It is Jesus. Just the Lord who can complete us to the uttermost.
Completion in Christ comes with a price labeled perseverance. Perseverance requires patience. If we are committed to being made complete as Jesus intends us to be, it will take a whole lot of perseverance and patience to get there. Completion is marked by maturity. Wisdom comes from knowledge applied properly to our life in our attitude and actions alike. We read the Word of God but it is in its application that one experiences renewal and restoration by having faith in God. To love the Lord is to follow Jesus. To say we love Him, but live the same way we did yesterday, is not to love Him like we should.
John 15:10-11 (NIV) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
God has jokes. I will let you in on a little secret. This house was not my first pick. I wanted a farmhouse with a wraparound porch. We looked at one or two. I had this overwhelming unction if you will that we would live in a farmhouse. Well, God has jokes. When we looked at this house, I knew it was the one that God handpicked for us. Walking through the home, it was the same layout as the one we were selling with some changes. Many of the changes were some that we had wished for in the other home and one day dreamed of doing. I remember feeling the peace of God yet still asking “are you sure”? This is not a farmhouse, Lord. I thought that’s what I wanted. Well, it is not a farmhouse but it is a house in a neighborhood called “The Farm”. I guess that makes it a “Farm” house.
His Ways are not my ways. His thoughts are so much higher than my own. Maturity in Jesus Christ requires a commitment to His Commandments. The Word of God is the beginning of true knowledge. The Word is seed for our heart from which our faith grows in the Lord. In our pursuit of wisdom, we cannot forget to continually read and study the Bible. People perish for a lack of knowledge. God is specific in nature. He does not lie or change His Mind. To be complete in Christ – who was the Word wrapped in flesh – means as believers we must know the Word of God.
It is not enough to know what God says but to do it. If I divided a room into three sections with one area marked as God’s Perfect Will, God’s Permissive Will and Not God’s Will at all, I am sure that if asked where you currently reside most Christians would play it safe and pick God’s Permissive Will. Sadly, there is no such thing really. God has a perfect will for us and then there is the area labeled not God’s Will at all. The world calls for compromise but that is not a welcome word in the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is to reject God completely. He vomits lukewarm Christians with a lack of sincere faith and commitment to Christ. John Bevere said it best – “There is absolutely nothing good for my life outside of God.”
Grace is enough to complete us. Grace is applied to our weakness. It is the Lord’s Deliberate Plan for us to take full advantage of His Grace in the process of maturity and completion. Grace and complacency are not the same thing. Grace is not a crutch but a pick-me-up when I fall short of the Glory of God so I can get back at it. It is for those who fall forward not backward. What do I mean? Grace is not a cushion to soften our fall but rather a set of arms that catches us as we learn to walk like a toddler taking their first shaky steps. Following Jesus is not easy. Carrying our cross is not a given. We must learn to walk.
I Corinthians 13:9-11 (NIV) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Our oldest daughter is grown, married and gone. She and her husband are in full-time ministry. They were called away just a few short months after their wedding. Both had not lived away from home for a year, when they packed up all their belongings and moved 21 hours away. She is experiencing life on her own and some days admits that “adulting” is tough. I must concur because at 50, I am still challenged with “adulting” some days. Maturity is not easy. It is taking responsibility of our life. What we do with it from that point on makes all the difference! If we take our life and hand it over to Jesus Christ, we will be made complete. It will be a process. We must be committed to that process. Since we can only know “in part” what is perfect, it is up to our reliance on Jesus Christ to fill in the gaps with His Understanding. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The more I grow in the Lord, the more that I need to grow. The more understanding that I am given the more I know that I need to be successful in my pursuit of Jesus.
Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
It has taken a lot of hard work to begin making our new house our home. Lots of cleaning and unpacking went into getting us here. Now as we settle in, projects abound and lists seem overwhelming. I believe that as we steadily work through our needs and want for this house that it’s true potential will begin to shine through. It will take time. It requires effort. It is a commitment. There will be things that I want to do on the weekend preempted by the task at hand. I must count the cost. I have to decide it will be worth it. The same goes for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I have decide if I want the Lord to make His Home in my heart or will we just be acquaintances? Will I live a life of true repentance continually being covered in His Blood and washed by His Word? Will I give Him my time? Will I invest energy into our relationship? Will I make a commitment to become fully mature lacking nothing or is mediocre good enough for me? Anything less of God’s Absolute Best is outside His Will for us. I wonder if that makes compromise and substitutions rebellion against God?
Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV) As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
True maturity in our spiritual life is evaluated by unity. Do we live in love with Jesus? Do we do everything in an effort to maintain our relationship with Christ? Unity with Christ allows Him to bear the burdens of our life as we are yoked to Him. (Matthew 11:28) Prior to His Death, Jesus told His Disciples that our bond with Him gives us the right to use His Name. (John 16:22-24) When Jesus arose on the third day, He handed us the Keys to the Kingdom once stolen by sin. He gave us His Power and Authority. Shortly after that, He filled us with His Spirit. His Desire is to be one with us as He is with the Father. Complete unity is Father, Son and Spirit living in us. (John 17:22-23) The sign of a mature church is its connection with each other through their bond with Jesus Christ. No division. No parting of the ways. No opinions. Just Jesus filling every member to overflowing until His Love and Grace unites us all to one another. This is the Will of God. This is the sign of maturity that Christ is looking for in His Bride.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Last night, I dreamed that I put up rolling bamboo blinds on the screened porch to keep out the elements. When I woke up, I thought did I really dream about blinds last night? I have home improvement on the brain it appears. Seriously though, I need to continue my pursuit of Christ more so than any other endeavor in my life until He is at home in my heart. Spiritual maturity cannot be forsaken as the end times are here. We must be aware of our connection to Jesus. We daily maintain our relationship with Him. We must communicate with Christ. His Desire is to complete us. He wants our life to be filled with joy. Joy comes with things like contentment and satisfaction. Maturity comes from knowledge and understanding that becomes wisdom when we take what we know God wants and commit to doing it in our life by faith that He knows exactly what He is doing in us and for us. It is a life of trust. When His Spirit nudges, maturity responds instantly without reservation because it knows God and His Ways choosing to walking in them until we are complete lacking nothing.
Colossians 2:6-10 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.