A Work In Progress
I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].
The moment we trust in Christ, some amazing transformations take place. All our sins are forgiven, we join God’s family, we receive eternal life, and God’s Spirit takes up residence inside us (to name just a few). These things are wonderful truths of our new life in Christ, but we’ve only begun to let those things sink deep into the crevices of our lives to change our motivations, thoughts, and habits. We are very much works in progress, and we’ll remain unfinished until we see Jesus face-to-face.
As we consider this fact, two important principles emerge: First, we shouldn’t expect perfection. We are on a long, long journey, and many of us have just learned to walk! We have much to learn, and we need to unpack the distortions, bad habits, and selfish attitudes we carry in our backpacks. If we think we should be perfect, we may deny that we’re drifting off course from time to time, so we will fail to make corrections. Denial can lead to calamity.
And second, we aren’t on this journey alone. God has committed Himself to be our guide all along the way. He is helping us unload some off the excess baggage we carry, and He gives us directions when we come to a crossroads. Sometimes we listen well, but sometimes we think we know the way without His help. We’ll do a lot better if we pay attention to Him!
The trail is long, and we won’t arrive at our destination in this life. Still, we’re on the journey with Jesus for the greatest thrill of our lives.
A promise like that from a person would be impossible, but that promise from the God who cannot lie is exciting!
There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.
What a promise! We hear sometimes about someone who is describes as “a self-made person.” And we recognize that there are those who rise above great obstacles to become something more than was expected of them. That’s worth acknowledging and celebrating. But Paul give us this amazing promise and this promise is for any and all. Hear those words again: “I am convinced……that He who has begun a good work in you will complete and perfect it….” While it may be good to be a self-made person, how much more is it and will it be when we become a God-made person.
This is the journey that every believer is on. We are constantly being shaped and molded by God into the very image of Christ His Son.
In 1 John 3:2 we find this incredible promise that coincides with the promise of Philippians 1:6:
Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].
1 John 3:2
No self-made person can ever shape themselves into such an image, but those who submit themselves to the workmanship of God have this promise. To be sure there must be cooperation with God on our part, but to think that we’re totally responsible for making ourselves acceptable to God or becoming fully what He has called us to be is foolish thinking. 1 John 1:9 says that our part is to confess our sins. We come to God recognizing and admitting that we need to make a change or more correctly to be changed. We confess our wrongs, our sins and then we place ourselves into the hands of the Master who defines His role as the One who forgives our sins and then cleanses us from all unrighteousness. God hasn’t asked us to get out the broom and mop and try to clean up our lives. He’s just asking us to open the doors to all the rooms in our hearts one by one and allow the Holy Spirit to shine the light in the corners and then let Him go to work washing and cleaning us and reshaping us into the initial image that God designed us to be before sin distorted and corrupted our souls. We are the workmanship of God, the Bible says and if we will just stay with God, draw near to Him with all our hearts, seek His counsel, follow Christ, we are promised that on the day that matters we will be like Christ.
In our state of imperfection, we have an accompanying powerful promise: “We are even here and now children of God….” Even though we are a “work in progress,” we are still the children of God with all the blessings and benefits. We aren’t earning our place. That was given to us when we received Christ. But now as children we are learning to walk differently than we walked in the world. We are learning of a different way of living. We are exchanging the values of this world for the values of heaven. We are trading our old destructive habits for new habits that provide peace and joy. Day by day we are being molded by kind, gentle, loving hands whose goal is to give us the greatest honor possible: to become like His beloved Son. What an honor! We know that no one is loved by the Father more than the Son and no one pleases the Father more than the Son. And we who were sinners have been given the privilege and honor of allowing ourselves to be shaped into the very image of the Beloved Son. Let that sink in for a moment and let that motivate us to submit and surrender to the work of God in our lives until that day when we stand as a reflection of Christ.
True we still have flaws. True we need lots of work. True we sometimes look and act like a mess. But let us remember that we are in the hands of the One who scooped up this lump of clay and placed it on the wheel of life and even when some flaw appears, He keeps working the clay, removing the things that mar us until at last we become the vessel He planned us to be.
So if you feel like your life is a total mess, remember that remodeling is messy. Sometimes you have to take it apart to find the problem before you can restore it. Sometimes in this journey, God has to break us down to build us up again. If you find yourself in the place of being broke down, remember that the hands that hold you in the breaking will be the ones that build you up again. Stay the course and you will find that truly “all things work for the good of them who love the Lord.”
Dr. John Thompson