Does God expect us to be perfect? Some of us think so.
Paul learned to be content. He wasn’t content immediately upon conversion. There were many trials and tests through which God brought him before he got to that place.
When we read Bible accounts like:
After being flogged, imprisoned and released the Apostles were “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Act 5:41).
After they had been severely flogged…thrown into prison…feet in the stocks…Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:23-25)
We often assume these godly people had that unbelievable attitude as soon as they got saved. If you have a heart after God, you want that mindset. But when we look at ourselves, we see how much we fall short! Then we start beating ourselves up, or worse yet, not even strive to attain this wonderful perspective. This is exactly what Satan wants! To stop us in our tracks in maturing.
Think this through with me.
Were the Apostles in Acts 5 rejoicing while being flogged? I have no idea, but I suspect not immediately. I imagine that they had to speak truth to their soul. Perhaps they looked back to when Christ was whipped and thought, “Lord Jesus, if You withstood this for me I can endure it for You. Enable me!” Perhaps Peter remembered his denial and was so glad for another chance.
When Paul and Silas were suffering, were they saying “yippee!”? Do you think they weren’t distressed in their excruciating pain and imprisonment? These are human beings! However, they knew and trusted their God. I imagine they might have had this encouraging conversation between them:
“God has allowed this for some reason, Silas. Let’s choose to praise His name.
“Yeah, you’re right, Paul! Let’s sing that song we sang on Sunday.”
And don’t forget, these godly men had already experienced much. The Apostles had been with Jesus. Observed His many miracles. Seen His unjust suffering and persecution. Witnessed the resurrected Christ. Received the great commission and “power from on high.” And had performed many miraculous signs and wonders (Lk 24:49; Acts 5:12).
Recall this was not Paul and Silas’ first missionary trip. They had seen God do many miraculous things through them by the time of this event.
These men went through a process to have this attitude—the process of sanctification.
God doesn’t place unrealistic demands upon us.
God doesn’t expect us to immediately have a Christ-like attitude upon our salvation, but to work toward it.
He knows how weak we are. He knows first of all, that it is an impossibility without Him. He knows it takes time—lots of time and lots of testing.
God looks at our heart. We are not to rationalize or justify our shortcomings but confess, repent, and work toward changing our attitude and behavior to be more like Christ. Our Lord will help us in this process. He understands who we are, but doesn’t want us to remain as we are, making excuses for our failures and stinking thinking.
God wants to do the impossible through you. He wants you to get on the path, begin the process, and continue the process of becoming more like His beautiful Son. Let Him!
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Col 2:6-7)
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.