An article in the recent New Tribes Missions newsletter was making a point about how long it takes to complete a modern English language translation of the Bible. Apparently the New International Version took a full 8 years to finish.
The New King James version was called a revision, and it took 4 years to complete. A limited revision of the New American Standard Bible took three years of hard work. And a hundred professionals completed the revision of the Revised Standard Version in 3 years.
Bottom line, excellence takes time.
It is well documented in our world that instant success is the current standard. And when we begin to consider the progress we need to make in spiritual matters, we tend to have that same instantaneous standard. We want holiness and we want it now!
Truth be known though, real tangible spiritual progress in your life and mine, takes time. Discipleship takes effort. We need a “long obedience in the same direction” to make progress towards the goal of “He (Christ) must increase, I must decrease.”
There are a couple of illustrations of this principle in the Old Testament. The first one occurs in Exodus 23 (repeated again in Deuteronomy 7:22). God is promising the Israelites the land of Canaan. He stipulates that one of His angels will go before them and help them wipe out their enemies.
He says in verses 29-30, “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.”
In God’s wisdom, He knew that an instantaneous destruction of all Israel’s enemies would leave a societal vacuum. Israel needed to grow and develop as a nation. Little by little they needed to mature.
And the second illustration is found in Proverbs 13:11: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Here in the context of finances, God repeats the principle. It takes time to gather a monetary harvest. Excellence takes time.
So this week if you are a bit weary of dealing with a particular sin “that so easily besets,” take heart. Spiritual progress takes time too. Cut yourself some slack if it takes a few days at your age to memorize scripture. Just stay at it. Be patient with your efforts to exercise a particular spiritual discipline. Keep at it.
Spiritual excellence takes time too.