The Process of Becoming Different

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp

A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People

“When the Word of God, faithfully taught by the people of God and empowered by the Spirit of God, falls down, people become different. Lusting people become pure, fearful people become courageous, thieves become givers, demanding people become servants, angry people become peacemakers, complainers become thankful, and idolaters come to joyfully worship the one true God. The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation” (Paul David Tripp in Dangerous Calling, page 51).

Think on these words: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account” (Heb. 4:12-13, NIV). The first phrase states that God’s word is living and active. It is not stagnant or dead but moves and lives. God’s Word changes hearts, and that change sometimes comes in the form of a process.

 Many metaphors about God’s Word are given in Scripture. One example is that of agriculture, involving the process of seeds that grow to produce fruit. Though I am not a gardener, I have several family members that are. When getting ready to plant, they don’t just go to a random piece of land and throw seeds everywhere. They pick the land, prepare the land, and plant the seed. If weeds come up, they remove them. If the crops need water, they water them. After time, there is evidence of growth. Eventually, the crop comes, and it may be harvested.

Gardening also brings with it certain obstacles. Weather conditions, animals, and insects are all things that may affect crops. Our spiritual lives are no different. Obstacles in life come in the form of sin or suffering. God is at work in us even in the midst of these obstacles. We know passages such as Galatians 5:22-23: “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” We often crave the fruit but do not want the process involved to receive the fruit.

One phrase I hear a lot in counseling are the words, “I feel stuck.” God’s Word is living and active. It will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Sometimes the sweetest fruit comes through the darkest trials. Tripp notes that the ultimate purpose of God’s word is not for theological information but  “heart and life transformation” (italics mine). Transformation involves the process of sanctification. Though heart change may not be immediate, God promises to never leave us or forsake us in it. In the midst of life, He constantly teaches us that He (not me or you) is the Gardener, Pruner (John 15:1-2), and the One that brings growth (1 Cor. 3:7). Though at times we may feel stuck, there is hope in knowing that He who starts a work in us will carry it on to completion (Phil. 1:6).


535826: Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles