When I was a young boy, I was often frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to do something right the first time. Doesn’t matter if it was drawing, writing, or creating something delicious in my kitchen, I always wanted it to be right from day one. However, it rarely went that well. Instead, I would try something and fail. Then fail again. And again. And so on. Eventually, I started to learn that developing skills requires that. It takes time. Failing forward, as some might say.
But when I first became a Christian, I found myself frustrated again, for the same reasons. Although I (sort of) knew better, I kept thinking I should be growing as a believer faster. Prayer should be a snap. Bible reading, no problem. Witnessing, easy-peasy. Go forth, sin no more, and enjoy every day like it was a Friday.
But it didn’t work that way either. Instead, I slowly came to realize, growing in holiness took time, too. JC Ryle put it well in his book, Holiness:
Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness—all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.
If you’ve been discouraged at your progress in the faith, be of good cheer. You are not alone. You may not see the kind of exponential growth you may hope for, but, by God’s grace, you are still seeing growth. And no matter how gradual that growth may be, you are becoming more like Christ, and every step in Christlikeness is still cause for celebration.