“Within each of us exists the image of God, however disfigured and corrupted by sin it may presently be. God is able to recover this image through grace as we are conformed to Christ.”
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to mature into Christ-likeness all on our own? God set us into church families, where brothers and sisters in the faith (as well as aunts and uncles 🙂) will help us learn and grow. And we are to return the favor. That process of refining each other isn’t always easy and may not feel good all the time. But done God’s way, it’ll make us each stronger, and all of us knit together.
“When we look at the love of Christ, we make a wonderful discovery. Love is more a decision than an emotion! Christ-like love applauds good behavior. At the same time Christ-like love refuses to endorse misbehavior. Jesus loved His apostles, but He wasn’t silent when they were faithless. Jesus loved the people in the temple, but He didn’t sit still when they were hypocritical.”
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself upin love, as each part does its work…Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
John the Baptist had the distinct honor of preparing the hearts of many people for the coming of Jesus. He could have found great self-importance in that role. But Instead, he made a point to know his place and faithfully serve there. That is one reason his ministry was so impactful.
We can take on a similar ministry today. So many people in the world still need to hear that they can find forgiveness and a new purpose in life. But to be as effective as John, we have to keep our focus on helping people see more of the Lord, and less of us.
“There is nothing that will keep a person from Christ like a good opinion of himself.”
“He must become greater; I must become less. The One who comes from above is above all. “
Going through troubles will take us in one of two directions – toward God or away from Him. The way we choose will begin to show itself not only in how we carry ourselves through the trial, but also in our approach to other people while and after we suffer. Trusting in God during those times means believing He is working in our situation, and that He is somehow changing us for the better because of it.
“I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.”
John Henry Newman
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”