Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise To The Lord The Almighty"1 (Lyrics)
Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (NIV)
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)
My one-year-old miniature dachshund, Simon, is a great little fellow and has fit in well with my other dogs. He has so many positive qualities, but he is still not trustworthy. If I leave him alone in the living room for a few minutes while I am outside, he loves nothing better than to indulge himself in the delight of attacking the Kleenex® box. He pulls the tissues out one by one and tosses them all over the house. At the rate he is going, I am considering buying shares in the company that produces Kleenex!
Nevertheless, I am seeking to be patient with him, for I know that one day, he will be trustworthy. I know this because I am consistently focusing on his excellent traits, as well as putting time, effort, and training into growing him into maturity.
Likewise, God does the same sort of thing with us. He never despairs of us or throws in the towel or quits when we show spiritually immaturity through our thoughts, words, or actions. He never browbeats us or turns away from us. He simply keeps pouring His time, energy, and training into us through the power of His Holy Spirit.
So, we must learn to do likewise in regard to ourselves. We must stop berating ourselves when we do not measure up spiritually in the way that we think we should. We must forego whipping ourselves with unkind words and thoughts concerning how stupid and hopeless we are. We must forsake the hair shirt of annoyance and guilt that we think we should don for days or weeks or even years at a time.
Instead, we must focus on the fact that God is continually at work within us, doing a good work — a great work, even — moment by moment, day by day, year by year, making us into the image of Jesus Christ — a wondrous work which one day shall be completed for eternity.
So today, if we find ourselves falling short spiritually, we must knock off the negative mumblings and utterances, and focus upon what God has promised He is doing. Negative talk crushes our spirit and dampens the Holy Spirit's efforts to work for good within us. But a positive and thankful attitude concerning God's ability to complete the work which He has begun in us grants us a cheerful heart which is good medicine to promote spiritual growth and maturity.
Prayer: Father God, thank You so much that we can count on You to be at work within us day by day, growing us into the likeness of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Bless us with hearts that focus upon this and not upon our perceived failings. In Christ's name, we ask. Amen.