Jesus told his disciples, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52) Although Jesus was inaugurating a new covenant through his death and resurrection, he was continuing to build upon the work God had been doing with his people for centuries. This suggests that while we think about what is new in 2014, we should also continue to persevere in some things we have already known.
Why is this important? In our last post we noted that newer ideas are not necessarily better ideas. In addition,
Not everything is simple.
Albert Einstein remarked, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Although I am hesitant to believe that Einstein wasn’t “so smart,” his comment reminds us that understanding is sometimes the result of a sustained pursuit. Some areas of maturation will not develop overnight. Some changes of perspective will not come about after a few short moments of contemplation. Some truths about God’s goodness, mercy, and love will not make it all the way into our hearts after one week of devotionals.
Paul writes: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) Character and hope are developed through perseverance, which often only comes through weathering trials over time.
John wrote deeply and profoundly about God’s love. But how long did it take for him to really know this love? Did he finally “get it” after being rebuked for wanting to call down fire upon the Samaritans? (Luke 9:51-55) Did he finally understand after Jesus identified love for God and neighbor as the greatest commandments? Did it sink in after Jesus humbled himself and washed the feet of his disciples? Did he see it all as he watched Jesus die on the cross? Did he learn it through taking care of Jesus’ own mother? Did decades of challenging but faithful ministry bring greater insight? Surely all of these things played a role in John coming to know just how deeply Jesus loved him, and just how deeply he was to love others.
When we bail on our marriages, when we give up thinking deeply on the Scriptures, when we pull out of a friendship prematurely, or when we decide to stop fighting for holiness, we never experience the depth of understanding and inner transformation that God desires for us.