Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is defined as the repeated performance of an activity so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
1 John 5:18
“We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them.”
So what do you practice? Logically we would practice what we want to acquire or maintain proficiency in. You certainly practice the skills required at your job each day simply by doing the job, but what do you intentionally practice? Ask yourself: in what do you want to get better? Maybe you practice a certain sport or musical instrument? Perhaps you practice a skill, like painting or woodworking? What about the fruits of the Spirit? Do you intentionally practice patience? Love? Joy? Kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control? Are we intentional about getting better at these characteristics?
In 1 John, we are told that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning; that is, God’s children do not sin regularly or purposefully. Note that it’s not suggestive; it doesn’t read, “God’s children should not make a practice of sinning”—it says that they do not. If you are God’s child then the old life is gone and the new life is here. In this new life we do not make a practice of sinning. If you are making a practice of sinning, that’s the old life, not the new.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
These are things we should practice: loving, being joyful, peaceful, having patience, showing kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, we should practice those things in which we wish to acquire or maintain proficiency. I certainly would love to be proficient in patience and gentleness and kindness and self-control. I could certainly use more love and joy and peace in my life. It is these things we should put into practice.
When the child doesn’t listen, practice taking an extra moment and consider the gentleness and patience that God has used with you, and try to be an example of that to your children. (Numbers 14:18, "The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love....") When it seems your spouse won’t listen to you or you are not getting your point across, take a moment to remember the love that God has for you and all He has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32: "Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.")
Practice by definition is something that is a repeated performance. It’s something we are going to have to work at, something we are going to have to try over and over again. It won’t come overnight; we won’t be proficient or acquire these things in a few attempts. In this new life we do not make a practice of sinning, but let us make a practice of growing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives by reading the Word and talking with our Lord daily.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.