A relevant and timely excerpt from Dallas Willard’s “The Great Omission”:
We should not only want to be merciful, kind, unassuming, and patient persons but also be making plans to become so. We are to find out, that is, what prevents and what promotes mercifulness and kindness and patience in our soul, and we are to remove hindrances to them as much as possible, carefully substituting that which assists Christ-likeness.
Many well-meaning people, to give an example, cannot succeed in being kind because they are too rushed to get things done. Haste has worry, fear, and anger as close associates; it is a deadly enemy of kindness, and hence of love. If this is our problem, we may be greatly helped by a day’s retreat into solitude and silence, where we will discover that the world survives even though we are inactive. There we might prayerfully meditate to see clearly the damage done by our unkindness, and honestly compare it to what, if anything, is really gained by our hurry. We will come to understand that for the most part our hurry is really based upon pride, self-importance, fear, and lack of faith, and rarely upon the production of anything of true value for anyone.
Perhaps we will end up making plans to pray daily for the people with whom we deal regularly. Or we may resolve to ask associates for forgiveness for past injuries. Whatever comes of such prayerful reflection, we may be absolutely sure that our lives will never be the same, and that we will enjoy a far greater richness of God’s reality in our lives.
In general, then, we “put on” the new person by regular activities that are in our power, and we become what we could not be by direct effort. If we take note of and follow Jesus in what he did when he was not ministering or teaching, we will find ourselves led and enabled to behave as he did when he was “on the spot.”
The single most obvious trait of those who profess Christ but do not grow into Christ-likeness is their refusal to take the reasonable and time-tested measures for spiritual growth. I almost never meet someone in spiritual coldness, perplexity, distress, and failure who is regular in their use of the spiritual exercises that will be obvious to anyone familiar with the contents of the New Testament.
That reminds me of the Richard Foster quote that I used as my prelude post to this series.
I doubt that I’ll have anything different or better to say on this subject for a while.