“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:17,18).
ALTHOUGH WE’D OFTEN LIKE TO FEEL BETTER EMOTIONALLY, THAT IS NOT THE THING WE NEED MOST. What we need, much more than an inspirational uplift, is to make actual progress in the quality of our character. The spiritual life is not primarily about feeling better; it’s about change for the better. It’s about true growth — real, objective movement toward God. Regardless of the fluctuation of our feelings, being a Christian means growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Reevaluation. The daily question we need to ask ourselves is not “How am I feeling?” but “Where am I in relation to God?” Paul wrote, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Answering that question honestly may not give us a cozy fireside feeling, but it will open the door to something we need more than better moods: genuine growth.
Repentance. Honest reevaluation of ourselves won’t help us, of course, unless we have the courage and the will to make the changes that our self-inventory has pointed out a need for. And when changes need to be made, we don’t need a speaker or writer who’ll make us feel wonderful, just as we are. We need a friend who’ll provoke us to repent and move forward in our character.
Renewal of Commitment. In all likelihood, many of us already know about areas in which we need to improve, based on past examinations of ourselves and decisions to do better. Falling backward is a habit we all have. So the third thing we need, more than better moods, is to get a fresh grip on our commitments every day. Significant spiritual progress comes from the frequent remembering — and remaking — of our promises to God.
So do you feel better after reading this? Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t. But today, you can decide to seek God faithfully whether your feelings are flowing in that direction or not.
“That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him, ‘Thou art my refuge because thou art my home’ ” (George MacDonald).