Spending time with God, we will begin to notice some positive changes taking place. These changes will not happen overnight, but as we spend time with God, several results will become evident as time passes.
WE WILL BECOME MORE FORGIVING
It’s impossible to spend time with God and not become more forgiving. Since we have experienced the forgiveness of God in our lives, He enables us to forgive others.
In Luke 11:4, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” We are to forgive as the Lord forgave us. We have been forgiven much, so, in turn, we forgive much.
WE WILL BECOME MORE FOREBEARING
I have found in my experience that to forgive is one thing, but to forbear is quite another. Often the Lord will deal with us about a matter of forgiveness. He humbles us and forgives us, allowing us to get to the point where we, in turn, can forgive the person He’s told us to forgive. But if that person is our spouse, or someone we see on a regular basis, it’s not as easy. We can’t simply forgive and then walk away. We have to live with one another, and the thing that we forgave this person for may happen again—and again. Then we find ourselves having to forgive over and over again. We might feel like Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (NIV)
Jesus wasn’t giving us a mathematical equation. He meant that we are to forgive indefinitely, repeatedly, and as often as necessary—the way He has forgiven us. And God’s continual forgiveness and tolerance of our own failures and shortcomings creates within us a tolerance for the imperfections of others.
By the Lord’s example we learn, as Ephesians 4:2 describes, to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
WE WILL EXPERIENCE FREEDOM
I remember when I first accepted Jesus into my life. It was so good to know I had been forgiven of the burden and guilt of all my sins. I felt so incredibly free! Nothing compares to the freedom that comes from forgiveness. When we choose not to forgive, we become enslaved to our bitterness, and we are the ones most hurt by that unforgiveness.
But when we forgive, Jesus sets us free from all the hurt, anger, resentment, and bitterness that once held us captive. Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book, Forgive and Forget, “When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.”
WE WILL EXPERIENCE UNSPEAKABLE JOY
Jesus said on several occasions, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39 and 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24 and 17:33; John 12:25). One thing about Jesus that we sometimes fail to realize is that He was the most joyful person that ever walked this planet. The writer of Hebrews gives us insight into this truth as he refers to a prophecy about Jesus found in Psalm 45:7:
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
(Hebrews 1:9, NIV)
Jesus denied Himself in order to obey His Father’s will. As we spend time with God, we will become like Jesus, and as a result, we too will experience His joy.
WE WILL HONOR GOD WITH OUR MONEY
Jesus said a great deal about spiritual maturity as it relates to money.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”
(Luke 16:10-15, NIV)
I’ll never forget the time I heard a friend keenly remark that financial giving is not God’s way of raising money—it’s His way of raising children! How true that is. God wants His children to be free from the love of money, which the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:10 is “a root of all kinds of evil.”
As God’s children, He also wants us to invest in “kingdom work” through the regular giving of our wealth. Giving to honor the Lord will also build our faith. There are times when other needs may demand financial attention, yet the Lord wants us to honor Him first, and trust Him for our daily needs.
I personally believe the tithe (one-tenth of our income) is the basic standard in giving. It should not be the limit to our giving, and it’s certainly not law. We see in Genesis 14:18-20 that even before the law was given to Moses, Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek. Melchizedek was a type of Christ. The tenth represented the whole. In giving the tithe, Abraham simply acknowledged that everything he had was God’s.
After God appeared to Jacob in a dream at Bethel, beginning in Genesis 28:20, Jacob made a vow: If God would be with him, keep him safe, give him food and clothes to wear, and become his God, then of all that God gave him, Jacob would give back a tenth. It is clear throughout the Scriptures that growing spiritually involves giving monetarily.
WE WILL EXPERIENCE GOD’S FULLNESS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
The body of Christ is not a building.
It’s a people. Even though we commonly hear the church building referred to as “the church,” we must remember that the true church is the body of Christ. The church is you and me.
Chuck Colson makes this profound statement in his book, The Body: “Our involvement in the body of Christ is indistinguishable from our relationship to Him.” I find that very interesting.
Ephesians 1:22-23 is a powerful passage concerning the body of Christ. Speaking about Jesus, it says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The word “church” is ecclesia, meaning “the called out ones,” referring to His people, not a building.
Christ is the head, and mysteriously enough, we as a people are His body here on this earth. His body is “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” That tells me, among other things, that we will never be full, in the sense of our growth as Christians, unless we are rightly related to the body of Christ, because that’s where His fullness dwells.
We will never experience all that God wants us to know in terms of spiritual maturity and godliness in the Christian life unless we become relational in the body of Christ.
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