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When you and I say to God, "Change me," we'd better know what we're saying because we are not just going to wake up different the next morning. Instead, God is going to give us an opportunity, through opposition, to grow as we change. If we tell God we want to change in our love walk, then we can count on Him putting someone in front of us that's hard to love.
James 1 tells us how important it is to have patience when we're changing and facing opposition. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that only develops and grows under trial, and is something we need. James 1:4 says that when we have it, we're perfect, lacking nothing. However, there's just no way to get it without going through something to receive it.
It doesn't mean that all we'll face is opposition, but it does mean that along the way the devil is going to try to stop us from having what God wants us to have or doing what God wants us to do. If we really want to be victorious Christians who serve God and make a difference in the world, then we are going to have to go through some challenges. I think the absolute worst thing we could do is look back on our lives and realize that we didn't choose to let God work through us to bless other people.
As God works through us, He encourages us to be steadfast, stable and determined to never give up. We need to make up our minds that we will never give up when facing opposition. We may not hit it right every time or the first time, but we shouldn't quit.
Have you ever been around people who have so much going for them, yet don't do anything with their life? Then there are others who don't have much at all going for them and they end up doing great things. It's really not about natural gifting and talent. It's really about being determined to do something with what we do have.
Remember, it's not about what we don't have; it's about being determined to never, ever, ever give up.
The Word of God tells us that God wants us to be blessed. He wants us to prosper. (See 3 John 1:2.) To do this, we need to find out what the guidelines and the spiritual laws are that lead to prosperity and blessing. And there's one thing that stands between knowing and doing: pain. Pain is not just a physical or emotional thing—there is also the pain of obedience. For example, if we hear about giving, and then go home and God puts it on our heart to give away a favorite possession, we're going to feel some pain. Our flesh is not going to cheer us on.
How about the pain of forgiving someone or not getting back at someone who has hurt us? We could talk for hours about being submissive to authority and we wouldn't feel any pain. But wait until the first time someone tells us to do something and we don't want to do it.
The Bible talks about those who progress and those who don't. It talks about the Word of God being sown like a seed into different types of hearts. Some people are fine. They hear the Word, receive it with joy and are all excited until they receive some opposition. (See Mark 4.) It's the same thing when it comes to progress.
Talking about doing something is easy. But just hearing about it is not going to change our lives. It's doing the Word, living it out day-by-day, that brings progress in our lives. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25 NASB).
Let's choose to be doers of the Word so that progress and blessing come into our lives. And let's be willing to push through the pain of opposition, because there's no such thing as a drive-through breakthrough. With steadfast determination and patience, we will continually move forward in our walk with God.