II Peter 1:5-9 (CJB) For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if you have these qualities in abundance, they keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Indeed, whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away.
Back at the end of May, I read this scripture during an extended prayer time as part of a discipleship process called The Journey. The Scripture did not just whisper my name. It screamed so loud I had to take notice of it.
I often struggle with condemnation for the sin that I committed after salvation, mostly between ages thirteen and twenty. I was saved when I was eight years old, so in my now renewed mind, I was a new creation in Christ when I was eight. I know that God has forgiven my sin. However when I fall short, my mind always goes back to the sinful life I lived from thirteen to twenty. When I start condemning myself, it usually stems from the sin I committed after I became a Christian.
As I read the part of the scripture that says “whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away.”, I took notice. I realize that is in essence what I am doing when I condemn myself for that which God has forgiven me. I figured that there is something I have been missing or I would not keep going back to twenty-year-old forgiven sin.
I decided to look the scripture up in the Blue Letter Bible, as I realize that much of my understanding of words comes from our current day definition of words combined with personal bias towards certain words. I wanted to go back to the original definitions of the words as much as possible.
Faith – belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, trust, reliability.
Goodness – uprightness, kindness, gentleness, not merely a passive quality, but a deliberate preference of right to wrong.
Knowledge – applied knowledge that is only as accurate as the relationship that it is derived from – gained by doctrine, wisdom, connecting theory to application.
Self-control – proceeding out of one’s self, but not by oneself, it can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord.
Perseverance – endurance, steadfastness, patiently waiting for, enabled by God to remain under the challenges God allots in life.
Godliness – someone’s inner response to the things of God which show s itself in godly reverence.
Brotherly affection – properly, affection of a loving friend, the love Christian’s cherish for each other as brethren.
Love – agape, divine love and preference, moral preference.
As I studied the Greek definitions of the words, I could easily see why I fall so quickly into forgetting that my past sins are washed away. I have faith in God. I know that He forgives me and that He loves me. He has definitely done a work in my life. I exhibit goodness – I do prefer right to wrong. I exhibit knowledge – I believe in putting into practice the things that I learn. And then I get stuck in the process of this growth.
Self-control by definition says I have to give up my control. I do this through God. I have not really been willing to give up my perceived control.
I can not accomplish self-control without turning all control over to Him. Instead I want to preserve without relenting control. I want to be godly, but I don’t even reverence Him enough to choose to surrender control to Him. He already has the control, He is just a gentleman and lets me have things my way so I think I’m in control. Growth is a choice, because letting God have control of my life is a choice.
This process of growth all boils down to choosing to give up control. Complete surrender. I know that I can’t do anything better than God, so why don’t I give up control? What is it that I am truly afraid of? If I want to continue to grow, I have to make that choice. So what is stopping me?
Those were the questions I was left with that day back in May. I continued to meditate on this passage as days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I kept asking those questions. I don’t give up control because I am afraid of what God will require of me. I know that He will not ask anything of me that He won’t equip me to do, but I am afraid of not being the best. I am afraid of the true cost of surrender.
I realize that in times past where I have stepped out in obedience, where I have surrendered control to Him, He has met me where I was. However, it has been a small piece of my life at a time. For whatever reason, maybe the calling is not strong enough yet, I have questioned if He would do that this time. The other truth is that He is not asking for a piece of my life anymore. He is asking for all of it, and that makes me uncomfortable.
I have always wanted one area of my life that I can be steady. When chaos is blowing around me, I have been able to hang on when one small area of my life is untouched by the chaos. I feel like giving up control, I give up that piece of stability. I wrote earlier about feeling ungrounded. I mentioned that I couldn’t pinpoint why, but I feel ungrounded. As I type this, I hear that still, small voice saying “I want to be the small piece that steadies you. I am not a small piece though. I am all you need to be grounded.” This is an opportunity for growth, but growth is a choice.
This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth. 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.