We’re paid, many of us, to achieve results. “The proof of the pudding is in the testing [eating].” This oft-misquoted proverb is ancient. (In modern times the proverb has been shortened to “the proof is in the pudding” but this makes no sense). In literature it has been traced back to 1300 AD. It was popularized by Miguel de Cervantes in his Don Quixote of 1605. But the message of the proverb reflects a core value that each of us has been taught from infancy: talk is cheap, what matters is the end product.

Fair enough. We should, perhaps, highly value the end results—in certain contexts. The danger is that when we overemphasize the product we can inadvertently devalue the process. Unless I am missing it by a country mile, our God is a God of process. Arguably, he values process at least as much as he values the end product.

This is particularly true when it comes to our spiritual formation. The final result will occur ONLY after this life is over—and it will be God’s re-creation, not ours. In other words, we will never attain perfect spiritual maturity as long as we are confined within this realm. This being true, then we must rearrange our expectations with regard to our spiritual transformation.

The first adjustment we must make is to stop requiring—from ourselves and from those around us—perfect results. Success in spiritual formation is NOT measured by the nature of the results but, rather, by the faithfulness of adhering to the process.

The next adjustment we must make is to stop claiming responsibility for what few results we do see in the here and now. If—and this is an extremely large if—if I have come to reflect my dear Lord a little more clearly than I did, say, when I was 20 years old, the credit for that progress goes to Him, and Him alone! My role in the process has been that of a person who stumbles, falls, repents, gets back up, and resubmits to His sovereign reign over me.

And so, church, we are together holding on to Him, holding on to each other, and tenaciously submitting to the process of spiritual transformation. We are, as a family, moving toward maturity.