By Kathy Holliday
There are big characteristics of Christlikeness that can only be incorporated into our lives through small, deliberate, painstaking steps.
It’s easy to spout off lofty ideals that are spoken and then seem to evaporate into thin air, leaving no trace. It’s something entirely different to intentionally and consistently yield to the Holy Spirit so that He can conform us more closely to Christ. Talk is cheap. Change is costly.
What do I mean?
Take for example my frequent but quickly forgotten prayers that the Lord would help me become more like Him. I often pray this during Sunday worship service. A few times I’ve even written it down. And then Monday comes; errands, emails, chores, calls…without thinking about it, I catch myself chasing after the urgent-but-unimportant. Sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts me when I do Bible study homework or as, sleepy-eyed, I skim through a bedtime devotional reading. But by then the day is over, and my progress is negligible or non-existent. And those feelings of hopelessness creep around the edges of my mind.
Can such patterns lead to feelings of futility? Of course. This is one of Satan’s go-to, tried and true weapons. But Jesus knows this, and He knows us. There are times when it’s better to chip away at the “big rocks” in our lives, rather than mount a full-court press that may leave us battered, bruised and more discouraged than before.
In the parable of the talents, the master praised the servant who had been “faithful in small matters” [Matthew 25:51, NASB], knowing that small steps can lead to large progress.
So where does this leave me, in my desire for discernable progress in Christlikeness?
To start, I can begin by doing things I already know to do, but don’t; say for instance, adjusting my to-do list to prioritize tasks that foster the orderliness in our home that brings a smile to my husband’s face. One more online game of Spider Solitaire or picking up, wiping down, and feeling the satisfaction of preferring what pleases the Lord, and my husband, over my own unconsidered tendency to waste time? Knowing myself as I do, I’m starting to remember to ask Him to help me to really desire what He desires, and then act on it. That feels better than any timewaster I can come up with.
When I move out of the way and am mindful to yield to the Lord, He is faithful to “order my steps” [Psalm 119:133 KJV] so that I make progress toward what pleases Him, and find that doing so brings peace and fulfillment. He is faithful always. That faithfulness brings spiritual progress in my life, step by sure step, to proceed on the path to Christlikeness.