Wouldn’t life be easier if we could just fix it? What if we could push a button and bring immediate change? When I watch people dear to me whose lives could be helped with more faith or Christian maturity, I wish I could insert them into a machine which would spit them out all cleaned up, somewhat like a washer. It might have numerous cycle choices, depending upon what needs to change—things such as a bad attitude, foolish decision-making, selfishness, laziness, unforgiveness, and leaving God out of life decisions.
Since God hasn’t given us such a machine and doesn’t choose to zap people into maturity himself, how are we supposed to help those whom we love find wisdom and spiritual growth?
The same well-meaning desire to help often leads us to search for a program that will automatically change them. Discipleship, however, involves becoming like the one whom we follow—Jesus. As was true of the original twelve, today’s disciples require time with Christ to reach maturity. By watching and listening to him through his Word as we walk with him through life experiences, we come to know and love him and begin to imitate him as his Spirit works in us.
Maturity is a journey; God works on his people while at the same time we stretch forward (Phil. 2:12-13). God develops us through his Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:6), our circumstances (Rom. 8:28-29), other people (Eph. 4:25), and if necessary, parental discipline (Heb. 12:5-13) to build our faith and make us more like Jesus. Yet we are responsible to grow through time in worship, the Word, prayer, and interaction with the community of believers.
God moves uniquely in each of our lives to bring us to faith, and he does the same with growth. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Instead of searching for a quick-fix answer in our attempts to help others mature, let’s take time to build relationships with them and carefully listen to their needs. Let’s pray that God will give us insight and wisdom to speak the truth in love while trusting him to move in their lives.
I would still love a quick-fix button for other people, but I prefer that God be the one to work on me (and I need it). I pray that he will help me give others the same grace, time, love, personal attention, and direction on their journeys as he gives to me on mine.