I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, that saying- “NO Pain, No Gain” is really true. I have found this to be especially true when it comes to my walk with God. I love what John The Baptist declared in John 3 vs. 30“He must increase, but I must decrease”. I know John was referring to Jesus’ ministry increasing while John’s decreased. I think it not a stretch to also glean a key truth wrapped in this statement. Paul summed it up in Galatians chapter 2-
I think it comes down to identity. Let me explain… If we come to Christ seeking salvation/a get out of hell free card, we miss the real message of the gospel. The real message is about death, burial and resurrection. His and OURS! If we look for our identity in anyone or anything other than who we are in Christ, chances are, we will be bogged down in religiosity- trying to be “good Christians”. Living out of the “poser” we project is akin to the pharisee.- wrapped in self righteousness, false humility and pride. Until we realize that we are utterly and completely lost and helpless- unable to reach God, please Him or earn His stamp of approval- we are lost in the “Sea of Striving through Self”. Its all about GRACE. As I said in my last post, even our faith is a gift of grace. Each day I make it a point to thank Him for His gift of faith through grace. It is a very important reminder to the old poser in me to get out of the way! That I choose my new identity and position in Christ. I am loved an accepted completely IN CHRIST. A reminder to self that I can’t to anything to gain or lose His acceptance, love and approval. IT’S A GIFT. Paul said it best,
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul’s Labor for the Church
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The following devotional really sums it up. Christ and His life are enlarged in us as we submit to the trials and suffering filtered through His loving hands for our benefit, holiness and His glory. Unless we decrease through dieing to self and our old poser identity, Christ can not be lifted up in our lives… there can never be two masters in charge. I choose Christ. Peace, Jon
Streams in the Desert
Free Through Suffering
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps. 4:1).
This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.
And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.
My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings — wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain.
If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he had never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck.