Friday, January 8, 2016

The Need for Consistency and Spiritual Maturity

UV 1636/10000 The Need for Consistency and Spiritual Maturity
Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
Hosea 7 v 8
We have discovered a way to keep the cake and eat it too. We keep one side of us raw and unformed and one side fine and refined. It is our way of trying to have the best of both worlds- the world and heaven. Scripture calls this condition-“ half –baked.” It makes us inconsistent with our beliefs. Our practices and actions are out of sync with our commitment. We are neither hot nor cold. It is because we have mixed up our beliefs and actions with those of the world. The actions and reactions of others throws us off course. We get easily discouraged and our faith weakens. Instead of getting mixed up with people and the world, we need to mix or blend the Word in everything we think, speak and do.
We are called to be Ephraim or “fruitful” but we produce fruits that are both sweet to the Lord and bitter. We need to heed the saying of Jesus that a “good tree cannot produce bad fruit.” St James wrote that “ a sweet spring cannot bring forth bitter water.” We cannot harbour unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts against anyone. Our ideas are not wholesome but imbalanced and not in conformity with the Word. Our words are at variance with what we teach and preach. This brings in the yeast of hypocrisy in our lives. It causes us to put up airs and screens to project ourselves as righteous. We are not sensitive or watchful about the little foxes that destroy the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control. One or more of these spiritual qualities are needed at any given point in time in order to be effective. Our knowledge of the love of God and of His Son Jesus should make us joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, humble and self controlled. Together these spiritual qualities constitute the essence of wisdom. When we encounter challenges, difficulties and crises in life, we should not veer off at tangents to our spiritual moorings. It should in fact make us anchor more deeply in His grace.
Scripture says that “ pride puffs up while love edifies.” We are artificially puffed up by pride and deceit. But love edifies or enables us to build our faith with integrity and sincerity. We need to be mellowed by experience and increase in our conformity to patterns of the Word. We need to be shaped by moulds, models and precepts detailed in His Word and not conform to the world. We need to resist the enemy and yield to the Spirit of God who knows which part of us is well formed or baked and which is not and requires turning.
Prateep V Philip

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