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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Sometimes the Change Is Gradual

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says, “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (NLT)

I need more power than just willpower in my life. I need God’s power.

The fruit of the Spirit is the qualities that God puts in my life when the Holy Spirit lives in me: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT).

How does God produce that fruit in my life? Not by willpower. I could go out and say, “I’m going to be a more patient person!” but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work.

The Holy Spirit has to grow it on the inside. I try to say, “I’m going to be more patient. I’m going to be more loving.” It’s like tying some oranges on a eucalyptus tree and calling it an orange tree. It doesn’t work that way. The fruit of the Spirit can only come from the inside—God’s Spirit living through me.

How does the Holy Spirit work in my life? The answer is gradually: “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT).

When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours. When God wants to make an oak tree, he takes 60 years. The question is: Do I want my life to be a mushroom or an oak tree?

I didn’t collect my hurts, habits, and hang-ups overnight. The things I most want to change usually develop in me over years. I’ve got to peel that onion one layer at a time.

The Holy Spirit works within me to make me gradually more and more like him. My character is the sum total of my habits. My responsibility is to develop new habits that reflect his work in me.

By gazing at the nature of God with an unveiled mind, I can be more like him. In the Good News, I see that truth about Christ, and it transforms me morally as I understand and apply it. Through learning about Christ's life, I can understand how wonderful God is and what he is really like. As my knowledge deepens, the Holy Spirit helps me to change. Becoming Christlike is a progressive experience.