“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
Running into doorframes, stubbing my toe, whacking my knee on a bedpost—such unpleasant incidents occur all too frequently in my life. More often than not, these minor mishaps are rooted in a common cause: Not watching where I’m going. It’s a simple mistake with painful consequences. Perhaps you can relate.
Whenever we allow our minds to wander from the path our feet are traveling, we run the risk of stumbling and falling. This danger is especially real in our spiritual lives where we regularly face the temptation to fixate on the actions of others instead of on the face of Christ.
In the following Q & A from Desiring God, John Piper reminds us that the key to avoiding discouragement on the path to Christlikeness may be as simple as remembering to watch where we’re going…
How do you keep from getting discouraged when it is apparent that so many people, even in your own church, just aren’t passionate for God and his word?
I keep from getting discouraged mainly by not focusing on my people. I focus on the Lord instead. Then he gives me the heart I need for the people. If I were to focus on the world and its condition, or the church and its condition—or even my own soul and its condition—I think I would be overcome by discouragement. But that’s not where encouragement comes from.
We are to draw encouragement mainly from Christ, from his work on the cross, his resurrection power, and his intercession for us at the Father’s right hand. We should be encouraged by his promises to work all things together for our good. And we should be encouraged that one day he will come and complete history, make this creation all his own, cast out all ungodliness, and establish righteousness and peace.
It is contemplating Christ, the history of redemption, the work of the cross, and the promises of God that establish the heart. That is the most fundamental way I fight discouragement.
Another way I fight is by reflecting on and appreciating the evidences of grace that are already in the church, even in the weakest saint. Likewise, we should give thanks for the smallest evidences that the Holy Spirit has begun a work in our own lives. Because really, for all of us, that’s all he has done: “He who began a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). He has just begun.
So look first to Christ—that’s my hope. And then look for the evidences of his grace, even in the weakest saint. And you can find them. And you can celebrate them, and then bring those people along further.
Photo: Per Hardestam