Sometimes this Christian life feels like I’m stuck in third grade! You know what I mean—we want to move on to higher things, but the Teacher says we’re not ready yet. Seems we haven’t nailed down the basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Perhaps the multiplication tables are not laid in stone, and because of it, our progress is hindered.
So it goes with my progress to be like Jesus. I know I’m saved and on my way to heaven, but this sanctification process is grueling. I want to discover all the amazing things God wants me to know, experience, and incorporate into my everyday life. But I’m stuck here—in Romans Chapter 7.
For fear that some may lag behind, it is necessary to linger long in the hidden truths in Chapter 7. The Apostle Paul clearly describes a carnal Christian in these hard-to-own words: “for what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do.”1 Sounds just like me, and I must find out why.
On my non-stop search for answers, I find this: “God’s means for greatness are not climbing up the ladder, but going down,” writes Chris Tiegreen.2 “He who is least among you all, he is the greatest.”3
Yet another hard pill to swallow in American culture: going down. That couldn’t possibly be the way to greatness, could it? It so goes against the grain.
Against the grain of what? Let’s examine. Against the grain of self-achievement, self-sufficiency, self-worth, self-esteem, self-made, self-taught, self-anything! That is the grain that going down works against: S-E-L-F.
Jesus taught and modeled the exact opposite. The Son of God said, “I do nothing on my own.” 4 If Jesus needed God, how much more do we? How then do we get God doing for us? Here is the mystery—fully hidden from the proud and self-sufficient—we go lower.
Whether we like it or not, humility is the way to God. There is no other way, but to admit helplessness (depravity) and depend on God. The lower we go the more of God we get. Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”5 See it! Peter urges us to “humble yourselves under God’s Mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time.”6
Being lifted up any way other than God’s lifting won’t last—it will eventually collapse.
Humility and depravity—words that come to our aid—position us correctly before an Almighty God. We’ve tried everything else—self-help books, self-taught Bible studies, self-sanctification efforts—all have failed us. Are we not yet ready to try the proven path found in God’s Word?
It is time that we stop our self-efforts, cease from our own works, and toss our 10-step plan to successful Christian living out the window, and go lower.
Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”7 Why? We are in the wrong position to receive more truth from God. It could be that fourth grade material is just too hard for us. We cannot grasp it yet, not in this position.
Where then is the right position? Somewhere lower and we must find it.
Let us seek a place away from the world’s activities, away from the TV, the music, and even the books. Shut it all down and get still before God. Bring every thought into captivity. Do not entertain any thoughts of pride or self-achievement; they destroy our ability to find God and fellowship with Him.
Seek God’s presence. Crave His presence. Cry out for His presence. Learn what is required to acquisition His presence, and then wait for Him.
Are we quiet enough yet to hear His still small voice? Have we heard Him call our name today? Have we learned to practice His presence on our knees, in our closet, until we hear Him say, “You are mine?” We simply must stay there until we do.
If we still cannot hear the voice of God, there is only one option—go even lower. ~Janie Kellogg
1Romans 7:15; 2At His Feet One-Year Devotional, Chris Tiegreen, Sept. 21; 3 Luke 9:48; 4John 8:28; 5 2 Cor. 12:10; 61 Peter 5:6; 7John 16:12
Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels post: A Hard Pill to Swallow, and God Wants Me to Fail.
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