We’ve been talking on the theme of “little by little.” I love knowing that God’s patience allows us to grow in our sanctification “little by little.” He’s not impatient with us when it takes us time to overcome our struggles.
One of the principles I’ve shared with folks a lot on this subject is what I call “The 1% Principle.” Let me explain it.
For most of us when we think of growth or sanctification, we believe we must have 100% victory in an area of temptation. So we think things like:
- I’ll never get angry again
- I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable
- I’ll never be discontent again
- I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance
- I’ll have my devotions every day
Sounds familiar? It’s easy to fall into such thinking because we imagine God to be this impatient and demanding God who requires us to be perfect in order to love us.
But I Timothy 4:15 gives a different story:”Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.”
Vine’s Dictionary says the word “progress” is the idea of a pioneer cutting his way through the brushwood.
How does he do that? Little by little. He doesn’t have a mile-wide ax to cut down a swath big enough for his house in a day. Instead, he takes one step and takes one chop in the brushwood with his ax. He progresses one step and chop at a time.
That’s the kind of “progress” the Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy to have. Step by step. Chop by chop. Little by little.
That’s the idea of The 1% Principle. Instead of expecting or trying to make plans for 100% perfection, we make small goals.
So let’s apply that to the steps we wanted to make above.
- I’ll never get angry again becomes I’ll concentrate on the time of day I often get angry and make changes that will support patience.
- I’ll always show love toward that person who is unlovable becomes find one thing I actually like about them.
- I’ll never be discontent again becomes I’ll find one thing to be satisfied about right now.
- I’ll always be joyful in every circumstance becomes I’ll find one thing to appreciate right now.
- I’ll have my devotions every day becomes I’ll have my devotions 3 times this week.
Such thinking in the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to make more progress because we’ll be persistent rather than get discouraged and give up. Because isn’t that what happens when you don’t reach your 100% goal? You give up.
Reaching a 1% goal encourages us and empowers us to continue trusting in God for the progress He desires. And we’ll give Him the glory for the progress we’re making rather than pour contempt on ourselves because we haven’t reached perfection.
What 1% goal does God want you to make? I believe you’ll make greater progress that way than forming unrealistic expectations.
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