November 2, 2014


Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

This is another “standard” Scripture, familiar to the point of numbness, but that numbness is very unfortunate, because there is excellent reason for this verse to be well known. The point of it is that Paul is at ease about the Philippian believers not because they are so wonderful in themselves, but because He is confident in his faith in God. Paul had a special history with those believers, because that was where he was beaten so severely and imprisoned and then delivered miraculously by God, as recorded in Acts 16. Lydia, the jailer, and his household were among those to whom he was writing. Together they had seen the power of God manifested, and Paul knew He would never let them down. The other vital point here is in the word, began. None of us are finished or complete; we are under construction. We are very prone to get impatient with ourselves and with others because of slow progress in maturity, but Paul is shifting the focus to the One doing the work, rather than the actual “work site.” Paul was quite aware that he himself was not perfect, as he wrote in chapter 3 of this very letter. We are all under construction together, but the Master Architect has it all under control, so our focus is to be on listening obediently to Him.

I have used this verse many times when writing a message to young Christians, either physically young or new believers (or both). I have been reminded of it in my own life many times as I get exasperated with myself over one failing or another. I am reminded of how the Lord did not drive all the Canaanites out of the land at once, because the Israelites needed the experience of participating in that work. (Exodus 23:28-31) As a pastor, I need to remember this verse (more) often, to have appropriate patience with those in my care. I am not to leave them as they are but continually urge them toward growth, but I must never think it depends on me, or even on them. We are called to participate in the process of maturity, but it is God who does the “heavy lifting.”

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the growth I do see, in myself and others. Help me participate with joy in that growth, again in myself and others, so that we may individually and together be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ Your Son, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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