“For it is God who works in you….” (Phil. 2:13)
When we think in terms of being obedient to God and living for God, we tend to think about results. Results are achievement oriented. Our whole world in Western society is ordered that way. It’s no wonder that we think in those terms about our spiritual lives.
The results we recall tend to be the accomplishments we have achieved.
God’s perspective is wholly different than ours. He doesn’t consider what we have accomplished, but what HE has been allowed to accomplish in us. We are participants in that accomplishment, but only as the ground receives the rain that falls upon it.
We are the soil in which God does His work.
We could be rocky and hard, yielding nothing to God. We could be shallow, allowing the roots of God’s seed only so far. We could be choked with weeds, crowding out whatever seed takes root.
God desires our hearts to be fertile, deep soil allowing God’s seed to send roots down deep and wide.
The seed is God’s, and the growth is His work in us. We are just the recipients of God’s seed. To receive God’s seed is to be born again. (John 3: 3)
Being born again means being born in a new way. We have experienced physical birth; to be born again means to experience spiritual birth. Just as are born into our bodies once, we are born again once. Unlike our physical birth and eventual death, when we are born again, we are born for all time and eternity!
The verb tense for “born[i]” again in John’s Gospel is the Greek aorist tense – meaning accomplished at the first attainment, at once. Spiritual birth is a finished work when it occurs.
We can take no credit for for being born. We are the result of our parents’ actions for our first birth. In similar manner, when we are born again, we are the result of God’s actions in us. Of that, we have nothing to boast.
At any given moment, we might look at our lives and be proud of what we have accomplished. In being proud of what we have accomplished, we may miss the mark and fail to see the things yet to be accomplished, the sin yet to be rooted out of our lives, the knowledge and understanding of God yet to be gained.
At the same time, we may look at our lives at any given moment and be discouraged by the lack of fruit we see, the lack of achievement (especially in human terms). Likewise, we might miss what God is going in us because we are focused on the wrong thing ( results).
God sees us as finished products!
What God begins, He finishes! (Hebrews 12:1-3)
In fact, He chose us from before the creation of the world! (Eph. 1:4)
From our perspective, we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil. 2:12) In reality, God is working in us to will (even to will) and to act according to His purpose. (Phil. 2:13).
And, we can have confidence that God who gave spiritual birth to us will perfect His love in us (1 John 4:7) because He has ordained it. He will finished the work in us because he started it. He wrote the beginning of the story, and He will write the ending.
Therefore, we should not be overly concerned about our accomplishments or the results of our efforts, in the ways that we measure them. God’s perspective is different than ours. He is looking for fruit, to be sure, but He is looking for the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), not the trophies of human effort.
God, please forgive my striving and my desire to boast in my own accomplishments. Everything I have and everything I have done is from you and the result of your work in me. Let me find rest in you. Let me take your yolk and give you mine. Do your perfect work in me.
[i] Gennao means properly, “born, birthed”.
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