June 4, 2013

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.”  1 Corinthians 3:1-2

Pace is difficult to gauge.

SwimmingIt is particularly difficult to gauge in swimming.  The problem is associated with being unable to see your accumulating time.  I never know my time until the last stroke of my set is finished.  Many times I have anxiously touched the end of the pool in anticipation of a new personal record (PR).  My swim felt great.  I felt faster.  The water just glided past me as I slipped through its restraints.  During those sets, I have day dreamed of race days in the near future; days when the pace I was swimming would keep me from being dropped by the real triathletes.  I tickled the thoughts of running into a transition area with most of the bikes still on their rakes because my swim was that good.

Those dreams of grandeur have been dashed more than once by the reality of my watch.  I get to my self-imposed finish line and stare down at my watch through fogging goggles.  That can’t be right.  I pull the goggles off to see better but that does not change the numbers.  I felt so much faster but my time is about the same as always.  I wonder if I lost count of my laps.  Maybe, I swam a couple extra laps without knowing it.  I make excuses for all my little lapses along the way.  Five seconds here and there to check my lap counter.  A three-second pause to spit out a gulp of water.  Two seconds for slipping on a turn.  None of my excuses add up to much time.  I am not as far along as my senses had convinced me.  The timer does not lie. Progress cannot be determined based on feelings.

Progress needs a gauge.

I have had another day dream.  I have wondered what Paul would have taught those immature Christians of his time.  I want to know the solid food that he held back because they were not ready for anything more than milk.  I am so disappointed in those early Christians for not staying on pace in their sanctification because they deprived us all of Paul’s teaching.

I have tickled the thoughts of listening to Paul teach the secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory (1 Cor. 2:7).  How wonderful would that be?  Just imagining this solid food of God that Paul could teach us.  I feel like I am ready for that solid food.  I feel like my pace of sanctification has been enough to keep from being dropped by the really mature believers.  I imagine that I am sufficiently mature to be prepared for the advanced class that Paul denied those early Christians.

However, Paul told those early Christians that they were not ready for the deeper things of God because they were still of the flesh.

For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?  (1 Cor. 3:3)

It is when I stop for a moment and really examine myself that I am all too aware of the myriad of actions in my daily life that are all too human.  I like to think of myself as mature and I know that I am in comparison to some.  However, I don’t know if I am all that much more mature than those early Christians.  I realize that the Church in Corinth had some huge problems but the Church in America has just as significant of problems.  We need to be very careful not to allow our feelings to be the metric of our sanctification.  The progress of our faith needs a gauge.  We are told to examine ourselves but that examination is not measured in comparison to those around us.

Spiritual progress is gauged by the scriptures. 

We need to periodically look at our lives in the reality of scripture to see how we are doing.  Is there progress?  Is the fruit of the Spirit more evident in your life?  Are you desiring God more?  Spiritual maturity is not measured by days on a calendar.  It is measured by the Spirit of God continually transforming us into the image of Christ.  Are you more Christ-like than you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago?  If you have been keeping pace in your faith, you should see a difference.

We need to periodically make an assessment of where we are and then get back to work.  This is where good pace-setters are helpful.  Most of us will dog-it when we are on our own.  It is so helpful to have someone more mature in their faith help us by setting a spiritual pace that is more aggressive than what we would have set on our own.  Now, we are not gauging ourselves based on this pace-setter but we are using them to see what is possible.

We will find ourselves in a lot of different situations throughout our lives.


swimming (Photo credit: Jim Bahn)

Swimming – In the group I swim with, I am the pace-setter.  The other guys are not as fast in the water so they are using me to push themselves.  They don’t like to be lapped.  So, they pick-up their pace when I am swimming beside them.  They end up going much faster.  I end up going faster because I don’t want them to catch me and I want them to get better.  I end up swimming faster when I am setting the pace.  It is the same in a spiritual sense.  There will be times when people are watching us and determining what spiritual maturity looks like based on our faith.  We have a responsibility to be setting a scriptural pace for them because they are imitating us.

English: Military cyclists ride in a pace line...

Biking – In the group I cycle with, I am not the pace-setter.  There is one guy who is much faster and stronger on the bike than I am.  He can keep a pace on flat stretches that exhaust me.  He can accelerate up hills when I am down-shifting.  He sets the pace for me.  I work much harder when I am trying to cling to the back of his tire.  He shows me that I can get a lot better.  He encourages me to want to get better.  We need people like that in our spiritual lives.  We need people to show us that we can go deeper with our Lord.  We need those people who will challenge pace complacency in our lives.  We need flesh and blood examples in our lives that will encourage us to go harder after our Lord.

so [alone]

so [alone] (Photo credit: Wsobchak)

Running – I run alone.  This is the hardest of triathlon disciplines for me because I have no one to train with me.  I run my routes in solitude; alone with my watch.  There is one stretch where I run into the sun, that is about two miles long and I can see it from one end to the other.  It can be a discouragingly endless section.  I have a horrible time keeping pace on this section.  I have no one pulling me along.  I have no one lapping at my heels to spur me on.  This is when I pull the visor of my hat down.  I look about twenty feet in front of me and I just run into the sun.  I check my watch a lot more frequently.  I count the number of strides in 15 seconds; all to help me keep pace when I am all alone.  There will be times in our Christian walk when we will be alone.  We won’t have a good pace-setter and no one is setting the pace off of us or it seems that way.  It is easy to start dogging-it.  It is easy to lose the pace of our sanctification when we feel that we are alone.  This is when we need to dive into the scriptures even more.  Paul told us to imitate him (1 Cor. 4:16); we are to be imitators of Christ.  When we are alone we need our gauge even more.  When we feel like we are all alone, we need to just keep walking into the Son and checking ourselves much more frequently with the scriptures to make sure that we are on pace.

I want to stay on pace in my faith.  I want the solid food that is given to the spiritually mature.  I want to run the race of this life well, to the glory of God.

Let’s see if we can pick up the pace a bit.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to be an infant in Christ.  I want to being maturing in you.  I want to know you more.  Yet, I know that there is so much of me that is still tangled up in the web of my flesh.  Father, please continue to free me of my sin.  Continue to transform me more into you.  Lord, give me pace-setters in my life to encourage me; allow me to be a pace-setter for others.  Help me to be an example that is worthy of being imitated.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


  1. As I have felt for awhile that I’ve been running a long, empty stretch alone, this was very encouraging. Thank you

  2. This is a totally awesome post! It reminds me of running the race until our time here is up. Great job, I posted it to twitter.

  3. This is very timely for me right now.

    God bless

  4. What a beautiful analogy of what our walk with the Lord should look like! I love the idea of finding pacesetters who can help us along the way. Thank you for writing this. What a great way to start my day 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on ARISEprayerministries and commented:
    This is written so well. Thank you

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