As the first day of class looms near, I was remembering something I posted after the first day of class last year. In a post titled “This one thing I do” I said:
- If I do anything in seminary, if I gain anything from my time spent here, it must be this: To grow ever closer to my savior; to love Him more; to serve Him better; to glorify Him more; to be ever more awed by and submissive to Him.
If I go through my studies here and do not attain this, the time will have been wasted. What advantage will this time be to me if I leave – a master of greek, hebrew, philosophy and theology – and yet am no closer to my God? What advantage to the kingdom will I be if my studies outrun the advance of my passion for Christ? Why am I here if not to grow in grace and sanctification?
This one thing I do: seek to grow in grace and knowledge of my God, and to love Him ever more steadfastly.
Father, give me the diligence to seek you first, not letting my studies replace or supplant you in my heart. Help me watch myself closely and make me able to discern when I have become too focused on knowledge and not focused enough on loving you more. Keep me from an idolatry of knowledge, Father. I beg you, bring my knees to the ground before your throne.
So, the question I must ask myself is this: “Have I grown closer to my Savior? Am I more passionate for Christ? Have I grown in grace and sanctification as much or more than I have grown in knowledge?”
I think, by the grace of my Lord and Redeemer Jesus, I can say yes. In conversation with friends and such about my time here, I’ve mentioned the fact that I was somewhat unprepared for what the Lord was about to do in me. I imagined, as I prayed that prayer at the end of the quote, that it would be a slow drizzle of Spiritual growth to match my intellectual growth. How very wrong I was! Perhaps part of the reason I was unprepared for God to work in me as He chose to was because I was prideful. I thought I was doing fairly well and was pretty much a holy guy. Ha…of course, that just shows how slow I am to understand the endless depths of God’s holiness. If He calls me to be holy as HE is holy, then there will never be a point in my life when there wasn’t room for vast improvement of my personal holiness. So, the Lord poured out His grace on me. Now, that’s not to say that I’ve arrived now. Not at all. If anything, I realize how desperate I am – that if Jesus Christ does not enable me to live righteously, I cannot do so. He has shown me through the past year, however, that He is entirely willing and capable to strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees.
One of the foremost methods He used to bring about my sanctification has been working in a church. The last sentence of the prayer quoted above – “…bring my knees to the ground before your throne.” – is precisely what He did. To feel the weight of my inadequacy, and to know that I will be held accountable for how I carried out the spiritual oversight of a flock of His people has kept my knees on the floor, constantly begging Him for strength and wisdom to fulfill my calling in a manner that pleases Him. I have never known the sort of desperation in prayer that comes from being called upon week in and week out to bring the voice of God to His people through the Word. I have seldom felt the urgency in prayer that comes from knowing that unless He upholds me, I will be unable to accomplish that to which He has called me.
So, am I on task? Am I being faithful to “this one thing”? By God’s grace, I believe I can say yes. (To note: I do, however, welcome your opinion on the matter. So if you read this and can point out areas in my life which need to be sanctified, please do not withhold that edification from me.)
What about yourself? Have you grown closer to the Lord, no matter what you’re doing? Do you love Him more than last year? Do you know His Word more than last year? Do you pray more than last year? Do you do these things more than you did 5 years ago? 10 years? If not, now is the time. Pray that the Lord would pour out the Spirit on you so that you could live righteously. Pray that God would sanctify you. Your days are short, and now must be the time for you to decide whether you will seek Christ, or seek other things.
My prayer is that you seek Christ above all else. May He bless you with the passion to do so, and strengthen your will by the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out your passion.