One thing always leads to another
Many years ago when my kids were younger, there was a popular book that they couldn’t get enough of. There was a whole series of them actually; if you give a mouse a cookie, a moose a muffin, a pig a pancake. Maybe you remember those books? My boys loved the rhythm and flow of the books. In each book, one thing always led to another and that thing leads to another thing, which led to yet another thing. You get the idea.
I shamelessly used those books to teach my boys that just because something seemed small and insignificant didn’t mean it really was. One small action on their part would always lead to something else.
We used this analogy for everything from a morning routine to chores to being involved in sports. We would talk about how just one thing missing from this chain of events would trigger a whole new set of circumstances that they then had to deal with even if they didn’t want to. They may have been small but they got it.
Without fail when I am reminded of those childhood stories I am also reminded that things of God are similar. One thing always leads to another. There are quite a few to choose from but take this verse as an example:
And besides this,
giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue;
and to virtue, knowledge;
and to knowledge, temperance;
and to temperance, patience;
and to patience, godliness;
and to godliness, brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness, charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 KJV)
I guess that verse is the Christian version of giving a mouse a muffin. Which is great but how does that verse and concept help us to lead a godly life? Let’s look at it a bit closer.
1. If you look at the above verse, it says to make every effort to apply these benefits to your life. This tells us it is a choice and a decision we need to make for ourselves.
2. There is a definite order to all things of God. God had a definite order of creation. He has a definite order of salvation. There were certain things that had to be done and said when Jesus chose to die in our place. 1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us God wants things done properly and in his order.
3. Things of God are not stagnant but always growing so one thing naturally flows into another. For example, as you allow the Holy Spirit to develop self-control in your life, you will naturally develop patience as well. You won’t develop patience without using self-control. And we can’t have real self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) without God.
4. As productive and useful Christians we need to truly have a love for others. For most of us that doesn’t come naturally. It’s a process that starts with a tiny mustard seed of faith that grows as you grow in Christ Jesus. You can stop or slow the process at any time through ungodliness such as your words and attitudes. I have found that as my love for God deepens, so does my love for his children. The above verse tells us why.
5. As productive and useful Christians, the above attributes need to be developed in each of us so that we bear fruit. The good news is that you don’t have to search for these attributes of Christ…Holy Spirit has already placed them in you when you gave your life to Christ. You just need to develop and let them grow with his help!
I love to draw, paint, and create. Most days I don’t have time to do any of those things but my mind is always putting pictures in my head of what I read and hear. As I read the above verse, in my mind I saw a child walking along a stepping stone path at dusk holding a brightly lit lantern that illuminated the stone she was on as well as the stone behind and before her. I believe God allowed me to have the thought of the little girl on the stone path to show me the following:
1. God gives us guidance and direction on where to place our feet so we won’t fall into the mud and muck (sin).
2. Each precept in the verse above is a stepping stone that follows a path leading to Jesus. This is key. If we veer off our path, it takes us away from God.
3. Each path is individual for each person’s individual journey. No two walks will be the same.
4. The stepping stones are put there to help us. However, nobody makes us stay on our stepping stones. We can leave the safety of our path but we might step into the mud and muck surrounding each stone. After realizing our mistake and going to God in repentance we can get back on our stepping stone path and continue on.
5. Nobody makes us reach for the next stepping stone either. It’s a conscious choice each person has to make on their own as they feel God leading them along. He won’t force someone to move forward.
6. The stones are never placed so far apart that we can’t reach them. God doesn’t set us up to fail. That would defeat his purpose.
What if I stumble?
Will you stumble and fall off the stepping stone path? Of course. Nobody is perfect and we all lose sight of where we place our feet at times; we might purposefully step off our path or we might stumble over our own feet. But God gives us similar line upon line of hope and encouragement for problems and trials we will face along the way:
Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that
suffering produces perseverance;
and perseverance, proven character;
and proven character, hope;
and hope doesn’t disappoint us,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 WEB)
Things To Think On…
Just like in the children’s books my boys enjoyed, these two verses above show that God builds line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:10). We need God every single day, every single step.
God loves each of us dearly and desires that none should fall and perish. He urges us to not grow weary but to keep pressing forward. God loves us so much he didn’t want us to struggle on our own so he blessed us with the Holy Spirit to help us along the way.
So go ahead…say a prayer, lift your foot and take a step forward. As your foot lands, prepare yourself for the next step in your journey. Then your next step after that. What God has for you on your next stepping stone will be a gift far greater, far more perfect, than you could ever imagine for yourself!