Archive for April 10, 2019

…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. Philippians 1:6

To me this verse is sort of the ultimate expression of encouragement. You see encouragement is supposed to bring courage and with courage comes confidence. This is what so many people in our world seem to lack. People are willing to do just about anything, or go along with anything, for fear of not fitting in or measuring up. Think of all the destructive paths that people will enter into and the carnage that goes along with it in the name of measuring up to a worldly standard that shifts like the sand. It’s madness. It’s got to stop and the verse tells us how.

One of the great things about Christianity is it takes measuring up off the table. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This means none of us, by definition, measures up. I know that sounds like the opposite of encouragement, but it’s not, for one reason. Jesus met us at our worst and laid down His life for us because we were worth it to Him. Our confidence, then, comes not in our own goodness or righteousness, or in our ability to measure up, or anything else. Our confidence comes from Him and His love.

Look at the above verse again. Why are we confident? Because He who began a good work in us. Stop there. Even as people of faith there is a certain amount of measuring up that we can be lured into. Jesus saved us and now we need to measure up. Now this is not to say we should not repent of our sins and try in Him to live righteously. We should. Also believers have a call on their lives, and we can get caught up in whether or not we are being successful in that calling and once again, we are trying to measure up, but that’s not what the verse says. Oh we need to be faithful and do what we can, but who began this work? He did. He began the good work in us. He knows what we’re capable of because He made us and when He made us, He began the work. He already knows the path you’ll take and what you’ll do and He has planned for it. He began it in you, and then it says He will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. In other words, He will finish what He started in you by the time Jesus returns and sets all things right.

This means you were not responsible for the beginning, and you are nor responsible for the ending. You’re responsible for what you do and the choices you make and that’s it. Your responsibility can be summed up in one word, faithfulness. You do your best to live a godly life, and you repent when (not if) you fail. You are responsible for doing the best you can with every opportunity, and repenting when, for whatever reason, you don’t. Friend, the plan and the purpose is bigger than you and me, and all along the way, at every step of the way, God knows. He is not dependent on us and we are totally dependent on Him. The pressure is off. Give God your best and He will handle the rest.

Be confident. You are loved by God and He’s got this!

I once was driving along when I saw the guy in front of me had one of those little frames around his license plate that said “Failure is Not an Option.” My heart went out to him and I thought, “Man you are putting way too much pressure on yourself.” The thing is failure is part of life, and it is rarely fatal. Remember I said, “rarely.” We pulled up to a red light and it was at the light that I could see the top of the frame. It said “Bomb Disposal Technician.” Yep, in his case failure is fatal, and I stood (okay sat) corrected. But here’s the thing, I’m sure even in his line of work, there have been failures. Oh not when it counts, in that moment, trying to decide which wire to cut, he has to be spot on every time, but I am also sure that moment of pressure is not the first time he ever faced a “bomb.” I am fairly sure that before he faced a real one, he had to do a lot of training disarming fake bombs, in situations where failure was an option. Cut the wrong wire and live to snip another day, much wiser and more ready to face the life and death situations that are no doubt a major part of his life, and that’s the point.

Most of us are not bomb disposal technicians. We face struggles and challenges every day and no one but God gets it right every time. For the majority of us, failure is not an option, sooner or later it’s a guarantee. We need to stop fearing failure, and instead take it for what it is, a learning opportunity. We need to learn to fail forward.

I wish we treated life more like scientists treat their work. Scientists expect to fail. They come up with an idea, a hypothesis, and they begin to do experiments to prove (or maybe disprove their hypothesis. If the experiment succeeds, they were right and they move on. If the experiment fails, and they often do, they look at the variables, try to figure out what went wrong and move on. Notice that, if they succeed they move on and if they fail, they move on, but either way they keep moving toward success.

Failure is not just an option, it’s often a necessity, and unless you’re a bomb disposal technician, it’s rarely fatal, that is unless you quit. Learn from your failures, see what went wrong, try something different and keep going until you succeed.