Maturing From the Inside Out
“Cursed is the strong one
who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie,
out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless
in a land where nothing grows.”
JEREMIAH 17:5-6 (THE MESSAGE)
After I committed my life to Christ I felt that I needed to change my sinful ways. After all I wanted to please God and as I reflect back on those early days of my journey with Christ I felt responsible to “fix” me – on my “muscle alone” – not God’s. I had high expectations of myself – in my own power and strength – to perform well for God.
I also had those high expectations of my wife and children. And I am ashamed to admit now that when they did not meet those expectations – when they would fail, sin and expose their weaknesses – I would shame them by asking them if their actions were “glorifying to God.”
Jan would always respond to me, “Sure I can perform and change my outsides but what about my sinful insides? What about the part of me that still sins but I won’t dare let others see or more truthfully that you don’t want others to see? But I know that God sees that part of me! What good is it to appear to be holy on the outside when your heart is still raging and desires sin? To me that is being a phony! I want my insides to match my outsides! I need God to change my heart because obviously I don’t know how!”
I, too, have learned that I did not know how to bring lasting change to my heart. Unfortunately, when our outsides do not match our insides what is on the inside – through the seasons of life – will eventually make its way to the outside. Unless God does the maturing or changing of our hearts “our maturing” will be like the “tumbleweed on the prairie” being tossed and blown by the wind. The Truth is we don’t know how to mature our hearts but the Good News is that God does!
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.”
JEREMIAH 17:7-8 (THE MESSAGE)
Fortunately God has been showing me that it is fruitless to try to perform and please Him without trusting Him. I have learned that trusting God leads to a dependence on Him that He will mature me from the inside out – not through any self-effort. If I want to grow and mature I need to trust God to establish those deep roots that will enable me to endure the seasons of life.
Instead fix your attention on God.
You’ll be changed from the inside out.
Readily recognize what he wants from you,
and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you,
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,
God brings the best out of you,
develops well-formed maturity in you.
ROMANS 12:2 (THE MESSAGE)
On the Journey with You,