I’m not really an Insta-potter, but my husband is, and my best friend is. Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with eating instant meals like these, but if it’s up to me, I’m an eat-outter (not to be confused with a fast-fooder). I like food that’s been properly prepared, not rushed. I love a slow cooked steak or a twice-baked potato. I will admit that the instant cooking movement has been pretty amazing — easy, fast, cheap. In fact, our family has even stepped it up another notch with “food that cooks itself.” Yep, we’re living the Jetsons’ dream! We live in a world of quick and convenient, a world that operates on our timeline, and most of the time it’s pretty great.
But when that philosophy carries over into our spiritual lives, not so much. We often want our spiritual growth to be instant too — follow the recipe He gives, hit start, and 20 minutes later — fully mature believer! The quicker the better, right? Yet spiritual growth doesn’t happen instantly and there is no new technology we can use to speed it up. Growing in faith is not easy. It is not fast. And it is not cheap.
Romans says that we can rejoice when we run into problems and trials. Wait… what? Problems and trials are hard. Why should we rejoice when they hit us like a Mack truck? Because it’s part of the process for spiritual growth and growth is something that should cause us to rejoice. The hardships of this life are the catalyst for what God is going to do next in us; without them, we are not growing. We are not changing from the inside out. We are not becoming more like Jesus.
If it’s not easy, we shouldn’t be surprised that developing endurance isn’t a one-time thing either. Developing endurance occurs over time and with a lot of hard work. In fact, it’s a multi-step process according to this passage:
Trials >> Endurance >> Strong Character >> Confident Hope
Each step is a process and we don’t move onto the next one until we’ve let Him teach us how to get there. One trial at a time. One step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race.
The other challenge with growth is that it always costs us something; it is not a cheap option. Spiritual growth is a high-quality product — grass-fed, organic, and non-GMO. And like everything else, you pay for quality. There is a surrendering of ourselves and a submission to God’s way that often costs our pride, our plans, or even a relationship. It is hard to choose expensive when there are so many seemingly cheap options out there, but remember this — they are a mere facsimile of the banquet He has created for you to enjoy. The quality He offers is most definitely worth the price!
So while we know that there is no quick fix or easy recipe for spiritual growth, we do have the privilege of learning from a Master. He invites us into His kitchen and He is willing to patiently slow down and teach us step by step. Our faith grows not when we throw a bunch of stuff into our heart and press the “start” button, but when create margin to apprentice under a Master Chef.
- When problems and trials come are you more likely to rejoice or complain? How might that look differently if you shift your perspective?
- In this fast-paced world we always seem to be rushing somewhere; do you find yourself trying to fit God into your schedule or do you allow Him to set the itinerary for your day? How often do you pause during the hectic busyness and wait on Him? How do you think your days might look if you did?
- What has your faith cost you? Have you ever found yourself feeling regretful or resentful over those losses, or are you able to see how they impacted your spiritual growth in a positive way?
- Difficulty in Faith
James 1:2-4, 12; 1 Peter 4:12-13, 5:10; John 15:18-25, 16:33
- God’s Timing
Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 27:14; Galatians 6:9; 2 Peter 3:9
- Cost of Following Christ
Luke 14:25-33; Luke 9:23-26; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 3:7-15