In today’s society, standing and class are directly related to how much money you make, power and influence, and job title. Other factors in determining your social status include the car you drive or maybe what neighborhood you live in. There’s this “ladder of success” everyone is climbing, which is measured by how many of these elements you possess.
But when people carry this line of thought over into their relationship with Christ, it’s destined to cause confusion, anxiety, and a feeling of inferiority.
As we begin to grow in our relationship with Christ, we recognize our need to grow and develop. And we often want to use a performance-based scale to determine how much we’ve grown. And that’s where we go wrong.
Our relationship with the Lord isn’t one of measuring growth based on how much we’re doing for Him. This performance-based “ladder of success” we try to apply to our walk with Him falls short on a number of levels. We think, “If I get in this Bible study, or I work in this soup kitchen, or I go on this mission trip … the Lord will know I love Him and it will be obvious I’m growing.”
While doing all of those things are great, they don’t equate to growth.
Malachi 3:2 says, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is a like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”
God is in the business of refinement. He takes what we give Him–all the broken pieces of our hearts and lives–and begins to transform it into something beautiful, something in His image.
Yet we try to rate our growth, which usually produces a feeling of self-condemnation. In actuality, however, our growth isn’t based on what we do; rather, it’s based on how much we’re willing to give over to Him for the refining process.
The iron of God is hot and painful. As He pounds us and shapes us into the man or woman of God He desires for us to become, we toss and turn. We question His tactics and reasons. We grow impatient. We continue to disappoint ourselves.
But if we’re giving ourselves to Him regardless of those misconceived thoughts, God isn’t disappointed. He just wants the opportunity to hold you over the fire and melt away all the impurities that prevent you from knowing Him more deeply and becoming the person He desires you to become.
When we give God full authority to continue this refining process in us, we grow exponentially in Him as our love for Him grows.