This morning I read these verses from Ephesians 4:14-16,
...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
As I survey the world around me I notice a common trend occurring in our western cultures: childhood is remaining long after childhood. This is universal, affecting every demographic -- even God's church. Many followers of Jesus are succumbing to the false idea that God's love means He doesn't mind childishness. After all, we are saved by grace, right? But doesn't love require reproof?
Our ministry is focused on helping sexually broken individuals and families find healing and hope through the power of Jesus Christ. We provide resources and training tools to also help Christian leaders be better equipped when helping people break free from sexual struggles or strongholds. To minister effectively it is imperative that we hold in balance grace and truth. When imbalance occurs between these two perspectives, the essence of love is lost.
I have 3 teenagers, two girls and a boy. I love them dearly. And my love is expressed to them in varying measures of grace and truth. Would I be loving my children if I never corrected them? Would I be loving my children if I gave them everything they wanted? Certainly there are ways to discipline and correct that are kind and gentle, but discipline and correction are not optional if I am to love my children well.
God deals with us in the same way. He loves us dearly. And His love is expressed in varying measures of grace and truth -- perfectly revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ, who was "full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) Would God be loving if He never corrected us? Would God be loving if He gave us everything we wanted? God certainly disciplines and corrects us in kind and gentle ways, but His discipline and correction are not optional if He is to truly love us well.
Today there are many who want to deceive us into believing that love doesn't require correction and accountability -- which is why so many remain stuck in childhood! We live in a world that reasons with its eyes and thinks with its emotions. If it looks good, pursue it. If it feels good, do it. After all, if it looks good and feels good it must be good, right? The Author of Good, the Creator of everything, would disagree. We are to live as He designed us -- to be holy and set apart, those who truly love in word and deed. In short, those who grow up.
It is time for courageous love to step forward in God's church. Time to "speak the truth in love" and not cower to the false teachers in society who present a "love" that may look good on the outside and feel good for a moment, but in the end leads to bitter division and a trail of broken hearts and immature character. True love is rooted in truth and expressed through grace for the purpose of growing us up into the likeness of Christ.
This year resolve to be a courageous lover, one who mirrors your heavenly Father to the broken world around you. Doing so will make you a beacon on a hill and provide hope and direction for those who need more than a mere facade of love. Let's show the world what "grown up" love is all about.
Life is hard even in the best of circumstances. It gets a whole lot harder when trying to overcome sexual struggles and strongholds. We instinctively know that problems of any kind are rarely solved by information alone. And especially when the problems are personal. Personal problems require personal solutions. In short, if you want to heal from sexual brokenness and pursue greater integrity, you will need friends who can help you along the way.
This post is the 2nd in a five part series on the Pathway to Purity, helping you recognize and engage the key markers for living a life of greater integrity.
Make Some Friends
There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Many may try to travel the Pathway to Purity fast but they don’t get very far. It’s a hard road. It was made for walking, not running. And to walk it well requires help along the way. No one can successfully master this pathway alone. No one!
The idea of needing friends in life is not new, even if we don’t always understand what true friendship is really all about. Life consistently proves to us that we are better off in community than isolation. But this doesn’t mean we always intentionally pursue community, especially when dealing with personal and painful struggles. And sexual brokenness qualifies as a very personal and painful struggle.
So, what are the benefits of making friends on this Pathway to Purity?
First, let me define true friendship. “A friend loves at all times…” (Prov. 17:17a) A true friend is one who works for your best at their own expense. In other words, a friend is someone who loves you. It’s that simple. Love always seeks the highest good of another.
There are 3 main benefits to making such friends on the Pathway to Purity:
Friends Encourage Growth
Encourage means “to inspire someone with the confidence to do something.” Good friends are good cheerleaders, consistently reminding you that the journey you are on is a worthy one; that taking the next step is not only right, but good.
The Pathway to Purity is a road we must travel throughout our whole lives, only “ending” when we die. We won’t reach the “destination” of complete wholeness and “purity” until we are at home in heaven with God. Therefore, we have many steps to take on this journey, and some steps aren’t as easy as others. A life of integrity is marked by humility, grace, accountability, healthy boundaries, suffering for doing good, and much more. We need encouragement to keep growing in these attributes, and good friends can encourage us in this growth.
Friends Comfort you When you Fall
Everyone stumbles on the Pathway to Purity. Everyone! And most stumble many times, even if they have been walking the path for a long time. Stumbling is frustrating, sometimes humiliating. When we fall, sometimes we don’t want to get up. We feel like just crawling into the ditch and dying. But to remain down on this pathway will ensure that you never experience the beauty and joy that comes by continuing.
When (not if) you stumble it is critical that you have friends who can come sit with you in the ditch and comfort you. In the moment you stumble you do not need instruction, you need comfort; “consolation, reassurance, support.” Out of this comfort your friends can give you perspective, reminding you why you stepped on this pathway in the first place: to grow in God’s design and purpose for you. Good friends can help you take a deep breath, dust yourself off, and stand back up on the Pathway to Purity.
Friends Challenge you to Keep Going
In the same way that everyone stumbles on the Pathway to Purity, everyone wants to quit at some point. Everyone! And many do quit. But one of the key factors that will keep you from giving up completely is to make friends early in your journey. Remember, no one successfully masters the Pathway to Purity alone, and if you “want to go far, go together” -- with some friends.
There are lots of obstacles and challenges on the Pathway to Purity. There is pride, fear, temptation, fatigue, past wounds, shame, just to name a few. If you think you can overcome all these on your own you are in for a very short trip on the Pathway to Purity. Overcoming these challenges requires the power of God and loving accountability from some friends. A true friend keeps pushing you to move forward even when the journey gets difficult.
Do you have some friends, true friends, who are traveling with you on this Pathway to Purity? If not, pause right now and pray for God to show you who He wants you to reach out to for such friendship. Be patient with yourself and with the process of building true friendships. But be persistent! You need friends on this journey...
For help finding a support group in your area, visit Groups.Bebroken.com.
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