Are We There Yet?
By: Bodé Adeboyejo
One common trait among children is impatience. One minute they are excited about going some place, the next minute they are complaining about why it’s taking long to get there. So, they nag every few miles of travel saying, "Are we there yet?"
Well, this impatience or excitement to arrive at the destination is not characteristic of children alone, but adults as well; especially when it comes to spiritual matters. Perhaps, this is why we are referred to as "Little children," in the Bible. As far as God is concerned we are little children.
My recent encounter with a lady proves this…
Not too long ago, I was talking to a lady that had taken a Lay-Teacher’s training program at my local church, and was asking her if she had started exercising her teaching gift. She told me that she had not started teaching yet because she didn’t feel worthy to teach; considering the fact that God was still working on her. She said that she didn’t feel worthy to teach, because she believed that whatever she teaches, she should already be walking in it, so as not to be a hypocrite. Besides, she said she takes the responsibility seriously, so seriously that she’d hate to mislead anybody or do anything to damage anybody spiritually.
Needless to say, I encouraged her not to be bashful about using her gift, but yielding her gift to the Lord to let Him use it whenever and however He wants to use it.
But afterwards, I couldn’t get what the lady said out of my mind. From talking to her, I sensed that fear more than anything was what was keeping her from exercising her gift. The fear of failure, that is. Not that she didn’t feel worthy to teach or not wanting to be spiritually responsible for other people’s lives. As a result, my heart went out to her for allowing fear to paralyze her from using her functional gift. But even more so, I thought about the several other people who might be in a similar situation as this lady.
Even though I could understand how this lady felt about being spiritually responsible for other people’s lives, I couldn’t help but disagree with the idea that you have to be something before you are able to teach about it or do what the Lord calls you to do. I thought about all the great men and women in the Bible, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Deborah, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, etc. I could not think of one that "got it together" or that was what God wanted them to be, teach or preach before God could use him/her. Or one that has already become (or was living) what God was asking him to do.
Relating it to our time, I wonder how many preachers are preaching only sermons or on issues or areas that they have already perfected. If that were to be the case, NO preacher would be in pulpits today!
In fact, if God waited for people to become what He wanted them to do, He’d never find anyone to do His will. For instance when Jesus sent out the disciples to preach the Gospel, it wasn’t because they had arrived or that they got it going on spiritually. Rather He knew that they were far from where He’d want them to be, spiritually. Yet He sent them out.
Matter of fact, the same disciples that were full of power, performing miracles at one time, were the same disciples that forsook Him at Gethsemane. Even after the Pentecost, when they had been filled with the Holy Ghost. The same Peter who preached and 3,000 souls were saved, was the same Peter that Paul accused of prejudice and hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-21).
What am I saying? That God does not expect us to be perfect or get it together spiritually before we do what He wants us to do. Rather, all God requires is a willing mind. That is, a mind to obey or become what He’s asking us to do. "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have." – 2 Corinthians 8:12
It is accepted according to what a man has -- a willingness to press towards the mark – not what he does not have! That’s why Apostle Paul in all of his accomplishments wrote that "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me." – Ephesians 3:12
Therefore, this whole idea of waiting to perfect an area before teaching on it, while it may sound good and biblical, is unbiblical. Even though it is ideal to be what one is teaching or preaching about, it is not a requirement for teaching or preaching. Even the popular secular adage is "Practice what you preach." It is not "Be what you preach before preaching." There is a difference. To practice is an ongoing action. Not because you have already become, but because you are striving to become or doing what you preach.
All God requires is "a broken spirit and a contrite heart." That’s why David wrote in Psalm 51:17…
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise
So, God does not require us to have arrived spiritually before we do what He wants us to do. Rather, all He requires from us is "…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, (and)…press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
By the way, should one be concerned about becoming something before he/she teaches or preaches, then one sure way to arrive quickly spiritually (if there's such a thing) is through teaching or preaching. If anything, teaching or preaching makes one grow up fast spiritually. For the most part, teaching or preaching forces one to become what one teaches or preaches. If not, one will be a hypocrite.
Speaking of arriving spiritually, when you think about it, you don’t get to a destination by staying in the same location, not moving. In the natural, the only way to get anywhere is by getting your move on – heading in the direction of your destination.
So it is spiritually. You don’t get to your destination by not doing. Rather, you get there by doing, i.e., by practicing what you teach or preach.
Now having said this, let me add that not becoming something before one teaches or preaches about it is NOT a reason or an excuse for being a hypocrite. Striving to be something or someone is not the same as being a hypocrite. These are two different things. A hypocrite, simply, is one who says something and does another, and does not have the intentions of doing what he/she says.
This was why Jesus was hard on the Pharisees of His days. They said but didn’t do, and were not planning on doing or practicing what they preached.
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. – Matthew 23:2-3
Are we there yet? No, we are not! And won’t be until we sleep in the Lord or Jesus comes back for His own. The disciples, like many of the godly men and women of the Bible, didn't get there either, but they continually strived towards perfection throughout their lives. Not letting their imperfections to hinder them from carrying out God’s will. Rather, they yielded their imperfections to God.
Likewise, the most we all can do is to keep striving for perfection all the days of our lives, i.e., keep pressing towards the mark of the high calling.
Are we there yet? Well, you be the judge!
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