By James Metsger
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Have you ever started a project you haven’t finished? I’d be the first to raise my hand. When Melissa and I moved to Charlotte one of our first projects was painting the bathroom. Easy enough—even for someone who talks for a living and doesn’t play well with tools. This wasn’t the Sistine Chapel. After four walls and some masterful cutting in, the mission was accomplished…provided you didn’t look up. Surely no one would see that one tiny, out-of-reach corner with no paint on it.
I’m short. The ceiling was tall. The ladder was (almost) helpful, but I still couldn’t reach the quarter-sized spot in the corner. This bothered me a great deal—at first.
I wanted to complete the job, but apparently “It’s good enough” trumped “It’s just perfect!”
Don’t judge me too harshly. I need to keep thinking I’m not the only one like this. Unfinished projects should be familiar to each of us though because we ourselves are unfinished projects—everyone of us. Until we’re walking around in our glorified bodies, we will still struggle with our corrupted flesh. There’s some good news though. God doesn’t leave any projects unfinished. He never sets someone aside and thinks, “I’ll get to him later.” “I’ll come back to working on her next year when things slow down.” No, God is not a procrastinator. He will finish the work of salvation and sanctification that he began in you. God is the great finisher.
What does knowledge of God’s finishing work produce in us? For one, it gives us hope. We can be secure in his purpose for us because “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). He has a definite plan for our holiness, and he’s not going to drop it on a whim or because he’s frustrated with our lack of progress. This should fill us with great hope. Sometimes I think I’m never going to change. I’ll always be timid. I’ll always be given to fear. I’ll always be a worrier. You can fill in your own descriptor. It can be discouraging when it feels like there is no hope. But there is hope! God isn’t a painter that leaves his canvas partially done. He reaches into every corner of our hearts because Jesus is going to one day present you before him blameless. He will be faithful to his own mission.
Knowing God will finish the work in us not only provides hope, but also produces patience in us. We can be patient with ourselves and patient with others knowing God is still working on all of his children. Isn’t it true that the unfinished parts in each of us usually cause the problems in our relationships? Yet, we still tend to give ourselves a lot of grace with our own shortcomings and less so with other’s shortcomings. Lest I get too focused on the shortcomings and sins in others, I must be reminded that God’s still working on me too! Knowing that this process takes a lifetime for everybody gives me much needed patience when I’m confronted with my own imperfections. Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of evangelist Billy Graham, had written on her tombstone, “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.” Yes! To those who know me, thank you for your patience.
What does knowledge that God is working on us produce in us?
How does this knowledge encourage me to keep pressing on in my relationship with God?