When you become a Christian, you may sometimes begin to change certain aspects of your life [at least that is expected]. One thing you might do is begin to hang out with other Christians. You may begin to pick up their expressions and wonder what they mean.
One such expression I often heard in the beginning of my walk was “I am not as good as I want to be, but I am better than I was yesterday.”
Over the years I have begun to understand what that means.
It refers to the faithfulness that God expects of us when we become one of His children.
Billy Graham calls faithfulness an inward fruit of the Spirit. “The Spirit works in us that He might work through us.”
When a person becomes a Christian, God expects us to change…inwardly.
Sadly, becoming a Christian is “it” for many. They have a moment when they make the decision to become a follower and they feel they don’t need to worry about anything beyond that. That is “the moment” in their lives when they feel the most connected to God and beyond that, they ride [so to speak] on that moment. They love to say things like “once saved, always saved.” They don’t realize that God has so much more for them if they would just continue on in their growth; God expects them to be faithful from the point of conversion to the time of death. In short, they don’t understand God’s expectation of Christian growth [i.e. working toward spiritual maturity].
Becoming a Christian also means yielding your life to Christ. Faithfulness means fidelity according to Pastor Graham* and fidelity means being true to someone or something; of course, in this context it means being true to Jesus. I have myself experienced the “partial yielding” of my life to Christ. It is almost as if I am holding out certain aspects of my life that I really want to indulge in but I know down deep in my heart that God is not happy that I have not given those aspects up for Him. In truth, He wants all of me and it is the most important job of my life to learn how to yield as much of me to Him as I can. All I can do is wrestle with this and learn how to give more of me in the future.
Graham says “faithfulness is not a faith exercised by the Christian, but rather to faithfulness or fidelity produced by the Holy Spirit in a yielded Christian life.” If a person grows beyond their conversion or I can yield more of my life to Christ, it will be because the Holy Spirit is working through me to develop the fruit of faithfulness. It is not me having faith as much as me experiencing faith in my walk with Christ.
Where do we get the idea that this is a growing fruit? Matthew 25:21 says “You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Graham writes “Morality is not so much a matter of magnitude, but of quality. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, in small things as well as big things.” The Disciple Peter has harsh words for Christians who cannot turn from the “world’s ways” in 2 Peter 2: 21, 22: “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that washed to her wallowing in the mire.” I read this as Peter admonishing us to get right with Jesus and turn from our old ways; don’t return to the bad habits that we have had. He is advocating for our growth.
Now I have already admitted that I have a ways to go. We all do. Pastor Graham says “even if we could become totally mature Christians I am not sure that we would be conscious of it. Who of us can claim total perfection in this life?”That is a good point. None of us will ever be able to claim total perfection because we don’t have what it takes to reach that. All we can do as Christians is try to live better lives. We know we will fall, but when we do, don’t listen to the voices that say “you don’t have to worry about it; you are saved and that is good enough.” Don’t listen to those voices that say “You don’t have to yield everything to Him. You can hold some back.”
Listen to this voice…
Get back up and walk with God again.
How many times?
As many times as it takes…
Until you are free…
from Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit