God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future. As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.
Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past. The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses. It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).
Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God. In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.
When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it. Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.
Spiritual growth is a fragile process. Without vigilance and encouragement from others, you live with the prospect of slipping back into sin. In the face of this, you need help from others who have courage and sensitivity toward your situation. Harsh condemnation will not help you, but neither will friends who flatter you with falsely positive words. Working with faithful support is what you need.
Consider John’s short letter in the book second John. In this letter, John balances condemnation and encouragement, proving himself to be a wise counselor and a great example to us. Recognize the past successes of others and affirm your brothers and sisters in Christ. At the same time, be willing to point out hazards ahead when you see them. Share your hard-won wisdom with warnings when necessary. Pointing out the obstacles ahead and encouraging others to be careful is the loving thing to do.
Loving one another is the most basic act of obedience to God. It’s also an essential element in your spiritual growth. At times, you may tend to focus inward and become self-centered. We live in a dog-eat-dog, every man for himself world. But that’s not Christianity. Remembering to be loving toward others will not only please God, but it will also help you to think of others and build good relationships.
Spiritual growth is all about being transformed into the person God envisions you to be. Confessing your sin and shortcomings is a part of this process of transformation. Whenever you confess your sin and shortcomings’your anger, lust, addiction, selfishness’whatever it is’you can have full confidence that God will forgive you, give you the power to change, and transform your life.
The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes’ (Ephesians 1:4). God desires to make you holy’that is, to form his character in you. Looking through the eyes of love, he already sees you as you will look when his work is done. Spiritual renewal is the process of correcting your life to match what God envisions it to be. The Bible tells us God’s discipline is always right and good because it means we will share in his holiness. It is God’s will for you to be made holy.
When you ask God to develop such holiness in you, he eagerly responds to your request. The apostle John wrote, ‘And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for’ (1 John 5:14-15).