A few weeks ago I picked up a piece of scrap wood and started to carve a toy for my son. I recall an older boy carving me a toy knife when I was about my son’s age, and it was a treasured possession for an eight-year-old boy! As the knife began taking shape, I showed the work-in-progress to my son, who took an interest in what I was doing.
“How do you do it?” he asked. “I remove parts of the wood that I don’t want to remain” I replied. “How do you know what parts to remove and what to leave?” he further asked. I tried to explain that I have an image in my mind of the finished product, and I was simply whittling away the extra – the unwanted – material.
It reminded me of God’s work with us. God is working in our lives to remove those things that are unwanted, the character flaws, the “weights”, the unjudged sin in our lives. He has an image in mind that He is seeking to reveal in each of His children.
“God, who set me apart even from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” (Galatians 1:15-16)
God had a purpose for Paul, and singled him out from his “mother’s womb”. God has a plan for each one of us, and that plan existed before we ever had a thought toward God. Paul was called in time by the grace of God. God’s purpose in saving Paul, in a general sense, is the same as what God desires for all believers; to reveal His Son in each one of us. God is seeking to reproduce the life of the Son of God in the each one of our lives (3 Cor. 3:18; 4:6; Col. 1:27).
This work of God in our lives is what we sometimes call spiritual growth. It is something that God takes a keen interest in. You may have already noticed that this subject comes up frequently in scripture.
Recently, our family finished the book of Hebrews, and at the end we came across these beautiful verses:
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21
What a MAGNIFICENT prayer! It touches so many subjects, wrapping them up in one sentence: the Person of Christ, the work of Christ, the shepherding care of Christ, the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the glory of Christ. In the middle, God’s work in our lives to transform us, and make us full grown, to do His will and be pleasing to Him!
When we see Christ that work will finally be complete; “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2)! Notwithstanding, the work of transformation has already begun. Day by day, lesson by lesson, trial by trial, experience by experience, God is working to conform us to the image of His Son. If we could only see how this (sometimes painful) process of spiritual growth will end, what a difference it would make in our outlook.