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Of Vicious and Virtuous Cycles!!!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady- Romans 5:3-4

We hear often of vicious cycles…do not we? A person would take a small dose of narcotic drug “to enjoy a bit of life” or due to peer pressure say in a college. Subsequently when the body starts craving for a “similar high”, he needs to take a greater dose of that drug (as the previous dosage would not give him a necessary kick) so much so progressively and unwittingly he becomes entrapped in that vicious cycle. Ditto with burrowing money for “Demonstration effect” (to use the parlance of Economics) for purchasing luxury items to show-off in a society…before one comes to his senses, he would be caught in a debt trap with maxed Credit cards. Be that as it may, let me bring before you the intricacies of yet another cycle…which in stark contrast is a Blessed one at that. Before doing so, I need to state that the main purpose of our Heavenly Father saving us-Christians- is to make us like His Son (Christ-like- 2 Cor 3:18). In Eternity, the Christ-like obedience, patience, humility, gentleness, meekness, self-control borne out of deep love for the Father would keep us united with Him forever and ever (unlike the Devil who fell away courtesy Pride). Now how do we absorb these Christ-like qualities in a measure (or close to it) our Saviour possessed? Do we get them by attending a Bible college for say 5 years? Welcome to the subject of “Virtuous cycles”!!! The main purpose of Yours Truly coming up with this message is to highlight the benefits of being “caught” in a virtuous cycle (read imbibing Christ-like virtues) in stark contrast (I repeat) to a vicious cycle!!!

To illustrate better the spiritual dynamics of a spiritual virtuous cycle, let me take the example of physical exercising. We need a quantum of strength to do physical exercise in the first place...and then by virtue of exercise we further increase that same physical strength of ours step by step. Similarly at the point of regeneration as the measure of Spirit is given to us virtues like love (for the Lord and fellow human beings), peace (in the midst of problems), Heavenly joy, patience, meekness, gentleness, self-control constituting the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) is there in a Christian already in a measure. As our Heavenly Father in His Sovereign wisdom and will permits persecutions in our life as per our Cross-bearing capacity (1 Cor 10:13), the measure of the elements of the Fruit of the Spirit in us gets fully exercised to bear them. Just like after sustained physical exercising, we find our strength increasing similarly after a God-permitted trial we find that by exercising the Fruit of the Spirit to endure a trial, we have in fact increased the measure of the Fruit of the Spirit in us…as the above-captioned Scripture portion oh-so- clearly affirms. As the saying goes…”Proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof”, with greater measure of the Fruit of the Spirit at the end of each successive trial, more of Heavenly, indescribable joy flows in our hearts (1 Peter 1:7-8) which can be experienced personally by every child of God.

Our Heavenly Father amongst other means uses a prickly neighbor, a domineering boss, a fanatical Government, an unsaved or at times saved but an immature family member (Note: all these categories of people constitute those who are right around us… hmmm…Cross bearing entails the cross being very close to us necessarily touching our shoulders, as it were) to ensure we keep exercising the elements of the Fruit of the Spirit in us continually in order the measure of the same in us (I reiterate) increases progressively. Cross-bearing, by now you would have realized is synonymous to being a victim of injustice and lies much like our Lord Himself was at the hands of the people quite close to us- Luke 23:23/1 Peter 2:18-23.

Eventually I would have to say that realization of this truth that cross-bearing is beneficial like all other truths is a liberating experience (truth liberates- John 8:31-32) with we not complaining about our Cross... be it a physical, emotional, financial, social or a spiritual one but praising the Lord for it …a La Apostle Paul (2 Cor 12:7-10).

Reader if you are caught in a debilitating vicious cycle adversely affecting your health…pray that the good Lord by His redemptive grace sets you free but Say Christian are you caught in a virtuous cycle? Then apply these Scriptural exhortations’ to your circumstances without complaining….

And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans. For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers- Rom 8:28-29 (TLB)

Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. – James 1:2-4 (TLB)

Prayer: Father, into Thy hands we commit ourselves for we know that You are using all circumstances to make us more like Your Son even our Saviour Jesus Christ. Enable us to depend upon Thee completely in all adverse circumstances. In Jesus’ Name.

Yours in His service,

(Suresh Manoharan)