Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 16 - To Be Or Not To Be
(Performance vs. Character)

Everyone desires to come to wholeness and enjoy the fullness of life. How that is achieved throughout one's time in this world is quite another matter, and depends upon a number of variables in each person's life.

Principally there are two general ways by which this is attained: 1) The self-centered way, by design of the individual, and 2) God's way and His will for His child. It is up to each Christian to determine which way to follow. There are consequences both good and bad , depending upon one's choice.

Life today with its accomplishments is based primarily on one's performance, with the results being reward or lack thereof. The emphasis is to do better than the other person. This gives a false sense of security, since the standards are constantly shifting. In school there is achievement through grades and advancement. In work advancement comes by doing a better job and then promotion, with salary increase, the rise up the corporate ladder, and ultimate success. Society values achievement, acceptability, respect, and honors those who attain them.

All of this is contrary to God's plan for His children (Prov. 14:12; Isa. 55:8). He is not as concerned with what one does, so much as He is with who one is; that is, with a person's being, not his accomplishments (Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10; II Cor. 3:18). In God's eyes each individual is a unique person. God's principles are applicable for everyone, yet individually applied by the Holy Spirit to each person. The Bible never compares a person with a person, but each one is compared with God's standards (II Cor. 10:12).

In the world of today, with its constant stress, and the emphasis upon achievement, there are valuable results in following God's plan for us, rather than the model that the world imposes. Primarily, God's way produces much less stress, for there is not the strain to measure up; we are accepted by Him, unconditionally. The significant elements in scripture are to: "Rest in the Lord", (Ps.37:7; 62:1); "Abide in Him", (John 15:7); "Trust Him", (Ps. 37:4,5; Prov. 3:5; I Tim. 4:10); "Grow in Him", (I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18). The results are found in Matt. 11:28-30, "Come unto me all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you - - for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light".

We hear of people having a feeling of low self esteem, lack of confidence, and many insecurities. The world's model for life has produced this, with all the problems that follow. God's model provides fullness of life, and inner peace, even in a world of tribulation. The result is a sense of security, not in one's self, but in God's indwelling and fulfilling His word in us. The Christian can enjoy a sense of well being and wholeness.

Parents can instill these truths in their children, to provide a growing sense of security, that will enable them to become useful adults, and to counteract the influence of the world and peer pressure. There is nothing better for a child than unconditional love from parents, and a Christian heritage. The resulting security comes from love, encouragement, acceptance, affirmation, discipline, and spiritual modeling by Christian parents.

There are three basic passages of scripture to guide us in following God's pattern of fullness and wholeness: Joshua 1:8, which shows us how we can become prosperous, in God's measurement not mankind's, and how we can attain unto good success; Psalm. 1:2,3, where meditating on the truths of the Bible will produce life fulfilling "fruit"; and Romans 8:6, shows that by way of contrast, "to be self centered is death, but to be God centered is life and peace".

In scripture there are three "bones" that we would do well to follow: the "Wishbone" - "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4); the "Jawbone" - "Speak Lord, for your sevant hears" (I Sam. 3:9); and the "Backbone" - "Watch, stand fast in the faith" (I Cor. 16:13).When one follows God's plan for life, there is fullness and abundance.

May the mind of Christ my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling,
All I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly,
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph,
Only through His power.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus,
As I onward go.

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