In most cases, change happens gradually. Each day, the chair inches over a little bit until it is in a different spot than it was a few months ago. Change can occur so gradually that we may not even notice.

If you see the same person every day over the course of ten years, you rarely observe the little physical changes which have taken place. However, if you have not seen someone in ten years, and then you do, you are more likely to notice those same changes. What’s the difference? For the one who sees the person every day, the changes have been gradual. For the one who does not see the person every day, the changes have been sudden.

Change can either be good or bad. But, whether the change is a good change or a bad change, it will occur in similar manner—it is likely to be gradual. James 5:19 mentions a scenario of one who “strays from the truth” (NASB). To stray is to wander. It has to do with roaming. Wandering, or roaming, involves gradually veering off the correctly established path. Someone who is navigating and gradually strays off the course will be further off the course with each step taken. The same is true of our spiritual walk. A gradual deviation away from the straight and narrow path eventually results in being a long way off the path. In other places in the New Testament, this same word is translated as deceived. Deception creates the seemingly small, subtle shifts in the wrong direction.

Change in the wrong direction is usually gradual but change in the right direction is oftentimes gradual as well. It has been said that the spiritual life is a marathon rather than a sprint. We are encouraged to be people who are always growing. The Thessalonians are encouraged to please God “more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). As we try to change for the better, there are things that we are to be adding to our faith. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Every day, we change. The fact is, the changes are so gradual that we seldom notice. The people around us may also not notice the changes. But we’re all changing. The question is, in which direction are we moving? Are we gradually straying away from truth? Or, are we gradually growing more and more by adding to our faith? Take some time to seriously consider the changes occurring in your life.