Jump Start # 2530
1 Timothy 4:15 “take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all.”
Earlier in the week I wrote about the subject of anger. Specifically, when our anger is noticed by others. It leaves a mark and it ruins the good impression that others may have about us. Well, there is another side to being noticed. It’s when someone steps up and becomes more engaged, involved and active with the Lord. That too, is noticed.
Our verse, written to the young preacher, touches upon this. Paul said, “your progress may be evident to all.” Progress, it’s the same as growth. We progress through grades and semesters until we graduate. The idea of progress suggests one getting better, stronger and more spiritual.
I saw this recently in one of our members. Since the first of the year, her attendance has greatly improved. She not only is coming to Bible classes, but she is connected. You just see progress in her eyes and in her heart. She has a growing love for the Lord and His kingdom. She sees the difference. But more than that, others are seeing it as well. Her progress is evident to all.
And, that is the very nature of the Gospel in our lives. We ought to be getting better and better. All those sermons we listen to. All those Bible Classes we sit through. Our own personal study of God’s word. Jump Starts. Podcasts. So many wonderful ways to learn, grow and become as God wants us to. And, in a short time, it should show. Just as you see a little boy growing and growing, so should our spiritual hearts be growing.
Here are some things to remember:
First, the progress takes place on the inside. This is where it starts. Better attitudes. Better control of temper. Better choice of words. More thoughtful. More forgiving. More hopeful. More optimistic. And, all of that simply makes a person feel better. They will approach the day better. They will deal with troubles better. Progress makes us a better person.
Second, this progress translates into better choices and better actions. This is when the internal becomes the external. We open our hearts up to others. We find powerful ways to be generous and kind to others. We become more interested in others than self. We take on the heart of a servant.
Third, this progress is noticed by others. This is a great encouragement to shepherds and preachers. All the work that is poured into trying to help people become more like Jesus is often wondered if it is doing any good. And then, progress is noticed. Some one is stepping up their spiritual walk. What a blessing that is. What an encouragement that is. And, believe it not, that becomes very contagious to others. That spirit touches others. Excitement grows just as discouragement can grow. More good things start happening. People invite their friends to services. More depth is reached in Bible classes. More hands want to reach out and do good.
It is at this point that others start to notice the difference. Sometimes, as Peter mentioned about Christian wives married to non believers, they begin to notice. Even though some may not fully embrace the Lord, they make changes because you have. Around you, they watch their language. Around you, they know better than to bring up things that would upset you. Your progress has made a difference.
Fourth, as this progress continues, it shapes some men to step up to the leadership roles in the church. When it comes time to appoint more shepherds or deacons, these names are obvious. No one has to do any convincing or campaigning, which shouldn’t be done in the first place. Their obvious progress makes is a sure thing. They have shown tender care for God’s people. They have demonstrated a commitment to faithfulness of God’s word. They have been busy serving and doing for some time. Their progress has been evident.
Finally, the opposite of our verse is also true. There are some who seem to be stuck. They aren’t progressing. They have kept one foot in the world and they remain on the fringes of the kingdom. These are the ones who struggle with right and wrong. These are the ones who don’t seem to get what everything is about. And, sadly, some have stayed this way since they came to the Lord. For decades, they have remained idle. There has been so little progress, that they don’t even notice it. Their names are passed over without even pausing when folks think about future leaders. Why? There has been no progress. Other than showing up on a Sunday, nothing more has been done. They aren’t engaged. They aren’t connected. They have just enough guilt to keep them coming, but not enough commitment to make a difference in their lives.
And, just as those progressing bring great encouragement to the church, those stuck bring great discouragement. Elders wonder what more can be done to light a fire under them. Preachers go home Sunday evenings, feeling like a failure because they cannot reach those who seem to be content to be idle. They ought to know things by now, but they don’t. The simple concepts they do not understand. The reason, they have not progressed.
The progress is individual. It’s not based upon the church, the sermons, the classes. It’s what one does with those things. It’s what one thinks about during the week. It’s how much one believes and how active one wants to be. The progress takes place as much outside of the church building as it does inside it.
It’s amazing how you can have within the same congregation, some who progress and some who are stuck. They hear the same lessons. They have the same opportunities. Some take it and run and they have grown. They have progressed. Others, let them pass right on by. They are stuck because they are not interested. They are idle because they really do not care. They do not care because they truly do not believe.
Progress takes you places…for us, it takes us closer to the Lord. Are you getting better? Do people see it in you? Maybe it’s time to give ourselves a little push to get us moving again.
Thanks, Judy. Your progress is evident to all!