How do you know when your pursuit of God and Godly character is bearing fruit?
Our pastor asked this question on Sunday, and it resonated deeply. In the study of James, I’ve been thinking about how true faith expresses itself in action, in being doers of the Word, not hearers only. And in our study of The Prodigal God, I spent time thinking about how difficult it is to understand the motives of our hearts.
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. … The crowds asked, “What should we do?”The first sermon recorded in Luke: Luke 3:8a, 10-14 NLT
John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”
“What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
Here are a few ways we might gauge our pursuit of God
- A deeper relationship with God: A heart transformed by God will be marked by a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him.
- A desire to grow in your faith: A transformed heart will also have a strong desire to grow in knowledge and understanding of God through Bible reading and the study of theology.
- Increased love for others: Transformation will result in more love, kindness, compassion, and generosity to others. We experience more profound and meaningful relationships with others, especially with other Christians.
Michael Horton describes our pursuit of God with four “D’s”
- Drama – as we seek to know God better, we understand our place in His story. God’s story is about His grace that consummates our redemption in the new creation
- Doctrine – our pursuit of God involves personal and communal study to gain a firm understanding of the character and heart of God
- Doxology – knowing the story and learning more about God’s character causes us to respond in heartfelt worship. It is our response to who God is and what He has done
- Discipleship – all of the above results in a lifestyle that is pleasing to Him.
The measure of a heart being transformed by God is not about activity, although “doing” is a result. Transformation is about the heart, a heart that has been changed, made new! Ezekiel says it beautifully –
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.Ezekiel 36:25 – 27
Father, you who promised to give us new hearts,
To give your Spirit to move us to follow You,
You who pursues Your people over and over,
Who desires that all should come to know You –
Transform our lives, Lord
May your kindness lead us to repentance,
And may we see you more clearly,
Love you more dearly,
And follow You more nearly —
To the praise and glory of God
Through the sacrifice of Your Son, and
In the power of the Spirit, Amen.