- Posted by daniel
I remember the first time I had a great cup of coffee made by a barista that really knew what they were doing. I liked it so much that I inquired about the coffee she prepared. She immediately let me know that I could buy the same coffee from the shop and prepare it at home. After a couple more question of how to prepare it, I left the shop with my fresh bag of recently roasted coffee.
The next morning I was eager to prepare this great cup of coffee, and did so as I exclaimed to my wife how it was going to be the best she has ever tasted. Sadly, as I recall, it only faintly resembled the coffee I had the morning before, but no worries, I believed that with a little effort and practice I could get better. But I didn’t. I began to get frustrated and mentally beat myself up for not being able to replicate the same coffee experience I had in the coffee shop.
We do the same thing with our spiritual walk. We hear someone communicate a message about how there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ”…. Romans 8:1. Upon hearing the message, we have a renewed hope that we too can be “a good Christian” and inspire others. Things go well for a day or so, until it happens…we fail in some way. It’s in that moment, after doing what we vowed to never do again, we have all sorts of emotions that begin to flood our mind.
You know the emotions and words I’m talking about:
- “I’m not spiritual enough”
- “I’m not good enough”
- “A real Christian would never do that”
- “A person who had a strong enough faith, would not have done that”
- “I’m stupid”
- “I’m worthless”
- “I’m a loser”
I could go on and on because I’ve done it to myself.
Then, when I remember what the pastor said about there being “no condemnation….”. Then, I feel even worse, because I think, “I must not be in Christ, because I’m feeling pretty condemned right now”. So goes the vicious cycle of beating myself up.
Then someone helped me understand something. To fully realize what it means to have “no condemnation” and live without it, I had to understand a couple of other key principles Jesus taught.
A guy named Matthew recorded a message that Jesus shared with people who were considered to be his students. Jesus taught this:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs”.Matthew 5:3-4
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.
There are two words used in the Greek text for “poor”. One means someone who has nothing of excess. They have exactly what they need and nothing more, nothing superfluous. The next, and the one used by Jesus here, means bankrupt. The person has nothing at all, not even the basic necessities.
J.Oswald Sanders says this of such a person in his book “Spiritual Discipleship”.
The person who is to be envied is the one who, in consciousness of his spiritual bankruptcy, is cast back on God and draws on His limitless resources. (pg. 12)J.Oswald Sanders-Spiritual Discipleship
[bctt tweet=”Possession or being part of The Kingdom of Heaven starts with this understanding. I am spiritually bankrupt and must totally rely upon the mercy and grace of God.” username=””]
The statement Jesus follows up with, actually flows from the first.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”
J. Oswald Sanders goes on to say this.
“This quality is the product of the poverty of spirit of the first beatitude. It is not bereavement that is primarily in view, although that need not be excluded. The word mourn conveys the idea of grief of the deepest kind. It is mourning over sin and failure, over the slowness of our growth in the likeness of Christ–mourning over our spiritual bankruptcy”.
I come to understand that the “condemnation” I was feeling wasn’t that I was being condemned by God…. I was pronouncing that unnecessary judgment upon myself. I was beating myself up, because I didn’t fully understand two key principles and practices in walking with Christ.
Being part of God’s Kingdom, and experiencing God’s love and forgiveness begins with an awareness of my own spiritual bankruptcy. Whenever I mess up, I have to draw on God’s limitless grace and mercy, while I mourn at the fact that I may not be “maturing” as fast as I would like. The blessing doesn’t come in the mourning itself, but rather in the comfort God gives.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ said this:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:13-14
When I understood these few principles, I stopped beating myself up. I also realized that beating myself up didn’t help me to mature faster or cause me to be less likely to make the mistake again, it actually did the opposite. It held me back from developing in my spiritual walk.
My experience with growing spiritually is similar to my coffee experience. Let me explain. I desperately wanted to be a “good Christian” and my perspective of being a good Christian, meant that I would be strong enough or smart enough not to make the same mistakes as before. As naive as it may sound, my perception was that a “good christian” wouldn’t even be tempted.
My inability to make a great cup of coffee didn’t mean I wasn’t “good enough” or “smart enough”. It didn’t mean that I didn’t want to enjoy a pleasant cup of coffee, I did. I simply didn’t understand a few key factors to making a good cup of coffee. Once I learned and understood these few key factors I could make a great cup of coffee and enjoy it on a nice fall, cool morning on our back deck.
Once I understood a few key factors of what it means to follow Christ and develop spiritually, I was able to rest in the grace and mercy of God. I realized the “beating myself up” for not being perfect didn’t help me to move forward and grow spiritually, it actually held me back. While I am not perfect, I do believe that I am a quicker repenter today than I used to be, and this has helped me to continue to develop as a follower of Jesus Christ.
As I shared with you a few key factors that helped me to grow as a follower of Jesus Christ, maybe I can also help you make a better cup of coffee as well. Here are a few key factors that I learned and when I applied them, I was able to make and experience that great cup of coffee.
- Your coffee is only as good as your water. If your water tastes bad, it’s going to transfer over to the coffee. Filtered water is best, and if I don’t have access to a really good water filter, I use a good bottled water alternative.
- Grind matters, and not all grinders are created equal. The small electric single blade coffee grinders are not consistent. I use a small handheld canonical grinder which provides a better, more consistent grind.
- Learn which grind works for your preferred brewing method. You wouldn’t want to use a “coarse” grind for an Espresso machine or Moka Pot. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to use a “fine” grind with a French Press.
- Understand what coffee brewing method makes the cup of coffee you like. The same coffee bean can taste considerably different when prepared in a French Press rather than a traditional drip coffee maker or a V60 Pour Over. A pour-over will give a less intense flavor while a “full immersion” such as the french press, will give a more robust flavor.
Once I started using better tasting water and learned what size grind was best for my preferred brewing method and how to brew it, I experienced better coffee.