Think back to when you were in junior high. The two most enjoyable words to a preteen/early teen are the words, Summer vacation. Summer vacation brings no school, sleeping in, outdoor fun and indoor laziness. It was a license to be a sloth for 90 days.
What it also brought was time away from classmates.
For three months you would not see the kids who went to school with you during summer vacation unless they lived in your neighborhood, played on your summer baseball team or went to your church.
Junior high students would go three months not seeing the kids they went to school with and then, as they gather back together in the early Fall, on the first day of school, many of the kids last seen on the last day of school months prior do not look the same at all.
Puberty had changed them.
Some kids were taller. Some kids had acne. Some kids had body developments and bodily hair. Some kids smelled different. Some kids had lower voices. All of the kids had extreme mood swings.
Three months went by, growth had happened in the junior high students and when seen after the hiatus of summer vacation, there was visible change.
For non-essential workers and students right now, we have been given a gift. While we still have at-home responsibilities with work and school and home-life, we have been given a slower lifestyle – a lifestyle away from others. Months away from others.
How great would it be when some type of normalcy returns – when routine is back in your life – if, when you are around the people you are around, they have to do a double-take to recognize you?
We’re not talking physically (please, stay active during this season), we’re talking relationally. We’re talking spiritually. We’re talking about your personality is different.
After months of not seeing others, what if you used this time to grow and mature as a person who is more loving, kinder, gentler and more patient?
There are ways we can stagnate our own growth. Like a preteen smoking daily or drinking gallons of coffee, we can keep ourselves from growing to the potential we have.
Sometimes God wants us to repent of our personality.
Check out what James 1:19-21 says:
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James :19-21)
The kind of people that refuse to repent of their personality are the ones who block God from growing them. They don’t produce as much spiritual fruit as they could.
Here’s 5 kinds of ways to resist growth:
1. Be a Noisy Chatterbox.
You know what a chatterbox is, right? You’re like, I think I do. I might be one. I don’t know. Am I? I prefer the term “verbal processor.”
This is a person who talks way too much about others.
They’re the person who always has to talk, fill the air, always wants the last word, makes sure their voice is always heard, would rather talk about someone else than deal with their own stuff. Their coin phrase is, Let me tell you what I think about this. Or they say, Did you hear about what happened to…..?
Are you a noisy chatterbox? If you don’t know, ask your spouse or your children or your parents, they will let you know. If you can stop talking to hear their response, they will tell you. If this is you, it might be good to practice what James says: slow to speak…..think before you speak….pray before you speak… maybe not speak…..practice silence…Do you ever pray and not talk?….Do you ever just sit and listen to God’s Spirit?……If not, you might be a chatterbox.
The rabbis uses to say, God gave us two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we speak.
Instead of being a noisy chatterbox, be, slow to speak (James 1:19).
2. Be a Bad Listener.
Are you a bad listener?
A bad listener is someone who’s so distracted, so much going on in their mind and in their schedule, they’re frantic and don’t listen well. Other times, bad listeners are those who hear advice, they hear wisdom, they hear the truth and they ignore it. They don’t like it so they walk away from it. They hear it, but they don’t listen because if they listened, they would change.
Some of you are not good listeners. You’ve gotten information, instruction, truth, you’ve been taught God’s Word, read God’s Word – you just don’t listen to it. You don’t ponder on it, you don’t receive it, consider it, believe it, plant it – and that’s why you don’t change………What you need is not more information, you need more receptivity……..more humility under God……
Instead of being a bad listener, be, quick to hear (James 1:19).
3. Have a Short Fuse.
Has someone said that to you? You’ve got a short fuse! This is a person prone to anger.
Now, out of these 5 things that keep us from growing in Christ, there will be one that is most convicting to you, and this one is most convicting to me. I’m not a yeller, but I get frustrated from being so easily disappointed. I’m allowing God to purge it out of me.
I used to think, Well, God gets angry, so it’s okay if I get angry – I used to spiritualize it, but James says that God does not get angry like we get angry. We get angry quick. God doesn’t. Over and over Scripture shares that God is slow to anger.
His patience is so much longer than ours. He does get angry. He will not let the guilty go unpunished. He will not let unbelievers continue injustice. But it’s a very long wick because our God is a God of great mercy and grace.
We have a short fuse. Any little thing can set us off at any moment. The people around you are always on guard, on eggshells. It’s like a landmine – the slightest bump will incur an explosion. We need to learn to be slow to anger – quick to compassion and slow to anger. Then we’ll grow.
Instead of having a short fuse, instead, be, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).
4. Be a Compromising Hypocrite.
The compromiser is showing up increasingly in our culture. It’s in our children. It’s in our young adults. It’s even in our older adults. It’s the person who can’t stand this specific sin, but they can tolerate that specific sin. It’s a Pharisee – they caught the woman in adultery, a visible sin, but they ignored their own judgmental, condemning attitude toward her – an internal, unseen sickness.
More so than that, this person admits, That behavior is wrong. I hate it. But this behavior, though wrong, is fun and I kind of like it. They’re inconsistent. Is the Bible the unchanging Word of God or something we can cut and paste? They segment their life to God, they don’t give their all to God. They have offense at what God says, think they know better, and choose to believe the world over the Creator of the world.
We shouldn’t just clean up part of our lives and let sin run rampant in other parts of our secret, private areas.
The compromiser is willing to put up with the hidden sin they continue to do. They think, no one’s perfect – yes, Someone is (Jesus) and He expects you to put away all filthiness. If it’s offensive to God it should not be flirted with by you. Let’s not segment our lives, let’s surrender our lives
Instead of compromising and being inauthentic, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness… (James 1:21)
5. Be a Constant Know-It-All.
This is the person that can’t be taught, they’re not teachable, because they think they already know it all in their mind. They are never humble to admit, I don’t know. I need help. I didn’t know that. Thanks for the help.
Do you have these people at work, or in the family? As soon as you try to educate them, they’re like, Oh, I knew that.
This group has a tough time submitting to authority. They make sure you know how smart they are. T
he issue is pride and the solution is humility.
The issue is they reject instruction, the solution is they should receive, with meekness, with modesty, God’s Word.
The reason people do not receive God’s Word is they think they know how to run their own life – and that’s why they’re not changing for the better.
Rather, we should pray daily, God, I am not as smart as You. Your ways are not my ways. I have much to learn. I have much growth to do. I am broken and need You. Thank You for Your mercy and wisdom.
Instead of constantly showing others how you know it all, receive with meekness the implanted word…. (James 1:21)
We have the capacity of doing all of these 5 things that refuse us the opportunity to grow – but – if you want to grow, you have to see how much God loves you and receive the wisdom of the Bible into your heart. Know the Word. Do the Word. Read the Bible. Apply the Bible. It’s like two pedals on a bike – know the Bible, do what it says – because God loves you.
I’ve yet to be to a high school reunion but I’ve always wonder how they go. People who knew you a certain way, how you acted, what habits you had, how you spoke, how you looked – and then years or decades later – they’re reacquainted with you.
Do your high school friends from years past consider you the same person? A worse person? Or someone who has had growth and a maturity and an improved personality and spirit in them?
We’ve all heard the phrase when speaking about immure adults, They still at like they’re still in high school. It’s because they keep
If you want to grow, if you want to mature, here are the great qualities to develop during this season of lock-down:
Be slow to speak (the natural instinct is to talk about others).
Be quick to listen (the natural instinct is to interrupt or be distracted).
Be full of grace (the natural instinct is to flip a lid on the people around us).
Be someone who has values and tries to stick to them (the natural instinct is to compromise).
Be someone who is hungry to learn more about God and life (the natural instinct is pride).
Like a seed in the ground in springtime you have this great opportunity to grow and then when society’s doors open back up, maybe those around you won’t even recognize you – in a great way.
Thanks for reading. You are loved.