through His Word
by Katy Kauffman
Grunt. Don’t grunt. Grunt. Don’t grunt. I wondered which way it is.
Do we “grunt” to be more like Christ, or is it a work He performs in us? What’s our part? What’s His? These questions usually come to mind when I hear someone say, “Jesus was won the victory for us. Rest in that victory.” Yes, Jesus’ death defeated sin’s power over us and set us free from sin’s penalty of eternal separation from God. But in my daily Christian life, I feel the tug of war between good and evil, between what I want and what God wants for me.
So grunt? Philippians 2:12 (NKJV*) teaches, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We have a part to play in our spiritual growth, and it’s going to take some fierce respect and love for God because we are in a fierce spiritual battle. As Satan’s kingdom wars against God’s, as the world’s ways war against God’s holy principles, as our sinful nature competes for supremacy with the Holy Spirit’s leadership, we are called to fight. To “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and to flee what’s evil and pursue what’s good (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22).
Are we capable of winning in our own strength? No, for Jesus taught in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Bearing good fruit on our own is as likely to happen as a branch bearing fruit after it has been cut from the vine. Fruit is God’s work in us—“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace …” (Galatians 5:22). So don’t grunt?
The satisfying, joy-giving, strength-supplying answer I’ve discovered hinges on the word with. Perhaps you treasure this word too. Life is a partnership with God. Jesus is God’s Immanuel—God with us. Life is a walking together with Him, a spiritual hand-in-hand partnership in which we say yes to Him and He works in us and through us. Our yes takes many forms, from reading the Bible and praying to showing love to others. We can’t be fully effective for God’s kingdom if we aren’t abiding in the Source of truth and love, wisdom and power.
Christlikeness develops as we go through life responding to God in faith, following Him, and practicing His Word. It takes our work of refusing what’s natural—pursuing our own way—and instead pursuing God’s way. It takes realigning our thinking and desires to God’s. A grueling process, but one that reaps contentment, purpose, and much joy and peace.
If we were going to practice a partnership with God in which we become more like His Son, what could we say yes to? What practical things could we do to cooperate with the process? Here are ten ways to become more like Christ, as He works in us to root out the bad and replace it with the good.
Say Yes—10 Ways to Cooperate with God’s Work in Us
- Practice only what you can do in oneness with Christ—limit yourself to do good to others, not harm.
- Follow God even when you can’t see how things will turn out, because you know He can.
- Love what Jesus loves—people, faithfulness, and truth—and we refuse what He hates—pride, arrogance, perverse speaking, and evil (Proverbs 8:13).
- Be faithful to God daily by drawing from Jesus’ grace (2 Timothy 2:1) and perseverance (Hebrews 12:1-2).
- Obey God one more time. And one more. And one more.
- Be mindful of what Jesus would say and do; avoid the situations He wouldn’t step into and pursue the opportunities that demonstrate His love and truth.
- Follow the Holy Spirit’s lead so that you give out the right blessing at the right time.
- Make it a top priority to spend time with the Father and to meditate on His word.
- Refuse the world’s value system and Satan’s counterfeits, because you believe God’s ways are the best and His provisions satisfy the heart.
- Lay down selfish interests, trust God to provide for your needs, and give of yourself freely as He directs.
As we become more like Christ, we are becoming more and more conformed to His ways of love. Since love is the greatest commandment, we can measure our spiritual growth by measuring the purity and strength of our love. Eight of the ten ways discussed above either show how to love God and others or what godly practices can be fueled by love. The other two show faith—trusting God to guide us and provide for us.
So this August, as the kids go back to school and we prepare for the adventures of autumn, let’s allow our faith and love to flourish. We can remember Who is holding our hand in this partnership called life, and trust Him and love Him with all of our hearts. He is doing a great work in us, and we have the privilege of helping to make it a reality.
Since you have purified your souls
in obeying the truth through the Spirit
in sincere love of the brethren,
love one another fervently with a pure heart.
1 Peter 1:22
*All Scripture is NKJV.
© Copyright 2018 by Katy Kauffman
This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and was adapted for this week’s post. Subcribers can reply to this blog's newsletter to sign up to receive the magazine for free, or you can contact us through the website. Our next issue, on the book of James, comes out August 15!
Subscribers, comment here.
Spiritual Growth, Godly character, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Grunt, Don’t Grunt, Katy Kauffman, Lighthouse Bible Studies