I was listening to a fifteen-year-old young man play the piano. He was very good. Every note was played with definition, but the music flowed like liquid sound. The ending chords were almost silent; they were so soft. Wow!
I was left thinking, this young man’s talent and his ability to make music didn’t happen by chance. How many hours of practice and instruction went into his beautiful playing? How many times did he do arpeggio warm-ups and listen to music, so that he would know how to make every note count? How many days did it take to perfect those runs? How could he play so softly, yet still touch those chords with precision?
Now, I’m not a musician, but both of our kids play very well, so I know what’s behind talent. Oh yes, talent is born in a person, but if he doesn’t develop that talent, well, he’s no musician.
About thirty years ago now, a young man was in our youth group. He accepted Christ as his Savior and became interested in playing the guitar. He’d watch others play, and soon he was chording just like they were. There was no denying he had natural musical talent, but he’d never done anything with it. After a while, he was playing the piano and leading the choir. It was amazing! But, you know what? He had to practice. He had to learn music theory. He had to watch and listen to others.
Mastering any field: art, music, math, science, nursing, surgery . . . . No matter what a person wants to do, if he wants to be good, if he wants to excel, much time and effort is put into it. Much sacrifice, too.
How does that translate into the spiritual realm?
Have you ever known a Christian who really shines, really glows with God’s love? Have you known a godly man or woman who exemplifies Christian character? Do you know someone who talks the talk and walks the walk and has come through adversity stronger?
It didn’t come naturally.
Let’s pretend that being godly/spiritual/devout is like a young person learning to play the piano.
- His lessons—Life lessons build upon others. With each lesson, the Christian learns a little more about relying on God and how to react to adversity.
- His practice—He’s learning about God by reading the Bible, meeting with God’s people in a good church, and growing his own faith by praying and watching God answer his prayers. He practices daily, sometimes giving up a pleasure so that he can know God better and build a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
- His teacher—The master drills his student, encouraging and refining. He teaches technique and tricks about how to get the notes to blend and still sound distinct, with the right flow. God teaches the believer through His Word, the Bible, and He opens his understanding through the Holy Spirit. The Christian learns from God directly when he reads his Bible and listens to biblical preaching. The Christian student grows.
- His performance—When called upon, the musician is ready to give an impromptu concert. He may not even realize it, but those hours of preparation have enabled him to phrase the music in just the right way, to hit the keys with precision, and to make beautiful music that impacts the hearer. The Christian is ready also. He’s prepared in his soul to react in the correct way, to share his love for God and people in such a way that the message of the Cross is communicated to needy hearts.
Being born again is something like possessing raw talent. As we practice our faith, we grow, and we get better at confronting the issues in life.
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name (Psalm 86:11).
I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me:
teach me thy statutes (Psalm 119:26).
Teach me good judgment and knowledge:
for I have believed thy commandments (Psalm 119:66).
Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good;
lead me into the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10).