Let me ask you a question: Is being dissatisfied a good or a bad thing? It depends right? We should be content in the circumstances of this world (see Philippians 4:11-12). Yet we should never be satisfied with our spiritual life (see Philippians 3:12-14).
Several years ago, I taught a lesson: Have a Competitive Edge for Your Spiritual Growth. I got some serious push back from people who felt that was a worldly approach. It did not seem spiritual to them. They were well meaning but wrong.
The truth is I am a competitive person. Not that I am any good at sports, because I am not. But I am competitive. No I am very competitive. For generations before me and the one following me, my family is very competitive. So maybe this is easier for me, but I believe anything less than a holy dissatisfaction with your spiritual life will lead to apathy which will give way to a stalled or stuck spiritual life.
Now I am not talking about comparing our spiritual life to someone else’s. And I am not talking about competing against someone else to be better than they are spiritually. Having a competitive edge for our spiritual growth is all about effort. And please no emails about a works theology – the name of my blog is INSIDE HIS GRACE.
Peter addresses this issue in 2 Peter 1. Listen to what he says: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Did you hear that? By God’s power we have all that we need for a godly life! God created us for a genuine, growing, dynamic relationship with Jesus. He has empowered us to do so. He desires this for us. Here is the Good News:
God wants you to experience immeasurably more spiritually than you can think or imagine (also see Ephesians 3:20).
Here is the bad news: we believe we are physical beings with a spirit. This lie leads us to be satisfied with a physical experience which is exceedingly less than what God has prepared for us. The truth is we are spiritual beings with a body. This paradigm shift is a game changer.
Jabez is an obscure figure in the Old Testament. There are just two verses in the whole Bible about him. Yet his story is significant: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
Now remember in ancient days, names were significant and often centered around God’s intervention or lack of it. Jabez means pain. His birth caused his mother great pain. Thus his name.
The second thing we know about Jabez is that he was more honorable than his brothers. And you don’t have to have a crazy imagination to think of how that played out with his name: “Hey Hemorrhoid!” or “You are just a Jabez in the neck!”
The third thing we learn is that Jabez was dissatisfied with the average human experience. He wanted more. He wanted God to bless him. He wanted God to enlarge his territory. He wanted God’s favor and protection.
And the most significant thing about his story are the last five words: “And God granted his request.” God wants you to experience immeasurably more spiritually than you can think or imagine.
Too many believers are missing out on what God desires for them. We need a song like Bell in Beauty and the Beast, “There must be something more than this provincial life!”
What if we considered living less than what God intends for us as spiritual failure. Before you write me off, Peter talks about spiritual failure in 2 Peter 1. In verse 4 he says we can participate in the divine nature. Then in verses 5-7 he talks about a dynamic transformation. Let’s pick up in verse 8: “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter says we are experiencing spiritual failure when our faith is “ineffective and unproductive.” We are spiritually ineffective when our relationship with Jesus does not transform our character. We are spiritually unproductive when our relationship with Jesus is not producing fruit in other peoples’ lives.
When Peter talks about growing in “increasing measure.” He is saying we need a competitive edge for our spiritual growth because God wants us to experience immeasurably more spiritually than we can think or imagine.
At this point, I am asking myself the question: If God desires, has provided for, and empowered me to experience a genuine, growing, dynamic relationship with Jesus, then why am I not? It has to be me. I have to take ownership of my spiritual growth. I have to want it!
James McDonald writes in his book DOWNPOUR (edits mine): “I want more of God in my life. I want more heartfelt worship and more measurable progress in my spiritual life. I don’t want to just hear I’m in God’s family; I want to feel it! I want true joy and peace that goes beyond what I know to be true and penetrates the core of who I am. I’m tired of routine religion that makes drudgery out of what should be delight. I know that if I keep doing what I have always done, I will keep getting what I have always gotten – and I am not satisfied with that anymore. I want a genuine, growing, dynamic relationship with God, and I am finished settling for less. I promise!”
Will you consider making a similar promise?
I promise to be dissatisfied with anything less than a genuine, growing, dynamic relationship with Jesus.