The other articles available for this series are:
- Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #1: Introduction
- Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #2: God First
- Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #3: 7 Days Before You Depart
- Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #4: 6 Days Before You Go [this article]
Question: Where are you right now? I know that you know where you are right now physically and that soon you will be going on this amazing Discovery Trip, but do you know where you are spiritually?
READ LUKE 18:9-14
Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector
9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It is easy to look in the mirror and see a physical reflection of ourselves, but in looking at our spiritual lives, we must go a little deeper than what things look like on the outside.
NOW READ 1 JOHN 1:5 – 2:2
Living in the Light
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
2 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. 2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
Write a few thoughts on what the writer is saying in these passages of scripture, and how you can apply them in your life.
Close your personal devotion time in prayer by confessing any sins that may be holding you down right now, knowing that you are forgiven and that His Grace is new everyday!
When I consider where I am spiritually, I try to moderate and adopt a position of humility. I would like to think that I am in a good place spiritually, not super close to God, but not too far either. What is important, regardless of where I think I current am, is the direction I am heading in. I am definitely heading in a direction towards God, drawing nearer to Him each day. This is the important point here – wherever we see ourselves on this continuum, it is not that important. It is, after all, relative. The measure of relativity can be useful. Comparing where I am now versus a previous or recent point in time helps because it helps us look at the pattern or trend. Our journey is just as important, given the overall destination is being with God in heaven.
Spiritual maturity develops over time and at different paces for different people. We all take time to work through our faith and the various aspects to it. Years ago when I considered baptism, I finally gave up on the academic, intellectual debate that had ensued for a good year+ and simply said to God that I was ready (or more than ready) to “level up”; that the foundation of my faith and identity was going to start with “I’m baptised” as opposed to a level where I was “just a believer”. The concept of levelling up in the realm of spiritual maturity is interesting – but it has a nice conceptual appeal to it. Progressively, we add to our personal collection of understanding on the nature of God. As we journey through the various epiphanies, they add to our spiritual experience and enrich our walk with God. For example, over the last two years, I have grown in new ways in relation to hearing and trusting in God. What was originally scary and something that I would not have thought possible, now I see God making possible. Truly, I can say with all my heart that God does indeed make all things possible – hallelujah! In that way, just in the last two years, I have grown spiritually and really love what God is showing is possible in me, through me, and in His people that surround me.
The two Bible passages share a common theme in the sin of pride. When we study the passage from Luke, the Pharisee suffered from the sin of pride and arrogance. Thinking he could claim a sinless life was foolishness, which in another parable Jesus teaches us, is like the man who built his house on the sand. In this case, it is considered wise to admit we have a sinful nature, and that God alone can cleanse us from our sins through our acknowledgement of His Lordship as our Saviour. Pride is a particularly difficult sin to deal with though. Sometimes our self-righteousness can creep into our conversations and attitudes without us realising it. Thus, we can become hypocritical in our words and actions.
Humility has been a characteristic I aspire towards continually. In the workplace, I operate by the mindset that my actions will speak louder than any words and perceptions I portray. This is particularly relevant for me in recent times since I rarely, if ever, like to blow my own trumpet and say “look at me and the good work I have done”. Instead, I prefer to get on with the work, perform well and let the outstanding results proclaim the glory of God and He will ensure the right people know this. In recent feedback on my performance in the workplace, I was challenged in this space to assess and consider the level of impact and influence I have in my workplace. I was asked to consider to what extent the good work I have completed was known – was it limited to the immediate project team, or did it extend to others in the extended project team, and the various levels of management. The example given to me, was the in order to be considered at the highest performance rating (Significantly Exceeding Expectations), my boss’ boss (Director) would be aware of the good work I had done. In this informal discussion, it was agreed that the measure of this awareness was an unknown untested view – both myself and the person providing the feedback did not actually know if the Director knew of my work. So, for me to apply this feedback and thus, aim for the highest performance rating, I do need to find a way to reconcile and balance it all – ensuring a maximum impact, influence and reach in terms of awareness, whilst maintaining a Godly measure of humility.