Every day we are faced with challenges. Some of them we are ready to take and others we’re not so ready. Ready or not challenge is coming and how we face them will reveal to us our level of growth or where we need to grow. So challenge is good because it causes us to grow. And if you are serious about your development you won’t necessarily wait for the challenge to come to you, you will challenge yourself.
Paul said in Philippians 3:11-12 “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as through I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Paul wasn’t going to sit back passively and wait for the challenge to come to him he said “but I follow after” or I will pursue. What was Paul going to pursue? He was going to pursue the life that Jesus died for him to have.
Pursing the God life is pursuing the person of Jesus Christ. His love, His joy, His peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance or the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The fruits of the Spirit is the character and life of Christ produced in us by the Holy Spirit. And as long as we live in this world we will be challenged in these areas because we were created with free will. We can either allow the Holy Spirit to flow Christ’s life through us or we can hold back and continue to live our own natural life. The choice is ours.
Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” In other words, whatever God reveals to us we have the responsibility to do something about it. So if you know God has been talking to you about walking in love, than it’s your responsibility to pursue Christ’s life for that area of your life.
One of the areas I’ve been challenged with is not being critical. To be critical is to find fault with or point out the faults of others. To find fault with something or someone means that there is a standard that you are measuring that person or thing by. Trust me this is not an easy thing to overcome, it definitely takes the Holy Spirit because most of the time we confuse being critical with giving good advice. Especially when no one has asked us for our so-called “good advice.” Being critical also means that you think you’re better than the person you’re criticizing. I told you it wasn’t easy (Ouch!). For example, let’s say you fancy yourself a good cook and you’re husband takes you out to eat at one of the finest restaurant in town but instead of enjoying the evening out and the meal you began to criticize the food. You might say something like “the steak is good but they could have added more seasoning.” Or you see a woman walking on the street and you say “her outfit is nice but I wouldn’t have worn those shoes.” It all seems innocent enough but powerfully poisonous to our peace and joy. Being critical is a challenge to walk in love.
Jesus left us this commandment, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus loved us so much that he died for us. Even on the cross instead of criticizing and judging He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). The love of God sees no faults and knows nothing against. The love of God sees the old self as being dead. Therefore, if I know that I’m dead than the only standard that I can use against another is Christ because I’m dead to self and alive to Christ. His life, His love sees no faults or knows nothing against. So now if I see a woman on the street it’s no longer “I wouldn’t wear those shoes with that dress” it’s “what a lovely dress and shoes” because Christ sees no faults. But this only happens as I continuously pursue His life and allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me. Am I tempted to criticize? Yes. But remember the choice is ours whether to yield or not. I can chose to yield to the temptation or yield to the Holy Spirit.
I want us to challenge ourselves to challenge ourselves to grow. For nine weeks we will look at the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 and challenge ourselves in each of these areas. I know it won’t be easy but the Holy Spirit is in us to help us. Our first fruit challenge, you guessed it, is Love. Maybe the Lord has revealed something to you related to walking in love or you just want to develop in your love walk. This week I challenge you to pursue the love of Christ. Whether it’s in showing love to others or in your relationship with God. Maybe it’s doing a study or reading a book on the love of Christ. Whatever it takes for you to grow in love, I challenge you to do it.
For these challenges I’ve created a new category called ‘Take The Challenge’ this way you’ll have easy access to each challenge. And don’t forget I want to hear from you. Let me know how God has challenged you or how you’ve challenged yourself in your love walk. Okay, that’s it. Get set, ready, grow in Love!