I sat down at my kitchen table to eat lunch a little while ago, and decided to crack open my copy of John Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life. I’ve had this book for about 19 years, as it was required reading for a humanities course in college, but I have no memory of its contents. No surprise, since I didn’t come to saving faith until the age of 30; it wouldn’t have been high on the priority list of ‘remembering’ as a 20-year-old.
The first chapter of this little tome is titled Humble obedience, the true imitation of Christ. The entire chapter focuses on the natural result of true conversion: obedience. Calvin writes “only if we walk in the beauty of God’s law do we become sure of our adoption as children of the Father” (p.11). Jesus said that if anyone loves Him, they will obey Him (John 14:23). Obedience is the mark of a true Christian.
A little further into the chapter Calvin warns us: “We should not insist on absolute perfection of the gospel in our fellow Christians, however much we may strive for it ourselves…..But let everyone proceed according to his given ability and continue the journey he has begun” (p. 18, 19).
Wise and biblical advice. We are all sinners, who still struggle after salvation because we have two natures at war within us. There should be evidence of fruit if one is a true convert, but each believer moves at a different pace in sanctification. The bottom line is, there should be growth. If you think back to a year ago, do you see changes in yourself? Is there growth?
For the Christian, there is nothing in this life that is better than the realization one has had growth in Christ! No feeling in this life compares. There have been several times since my conversion when a brother or sister in Christ has encouraged me by remarking on, or pointing out growth in Christ that they have seen in me, and celebrating that growth right along with me. This genuine encouragement is so important in our walk with the Lord.
Today I would like to challenge my readers, myself included, to look for opportunities to encourage a fellow believer when we notice growth in their lives. Be genuine; flattery helps no one. When you see evidence, however, don’t be stingy with encouraging words or praise. We all need this feedback and encouragement. It motivates us to keep striving toward the narrow gate. It demonstrates love among the brethren. And it honors Christ, as we acknowledge His supernatural work of sanctification within the body that we ourselves belong to. Be an encouragement today!
Soli Deo Gloria!