I wanted to do a rebuild on my garage. I planned on putting up new sheet rock all the way around. Never did it before – but if it turned out to be hideous, I planned to hang rakes and shovels everywhere.
So, I tacked it up, taped and bedded, sanded, primed and painted. I was pleasantly shocked at how good it looked. My son-in-law came over to inspect it. To my chagrin, he looked past my gorgeously smooth seamless walls, to spot the trim above the door.
It dropped ¼ inch from one side to the next. That is what he saw and pointed out to me. Hmm. I told him I did that on purpose so that people can’t accuse me of being a perfectionist.
And I was half serious. I typically aim to do my very best when I engage in a task. But my best is always hampered by my limitations. No matter how hard I try, my stubby legs will never give me victory in a wind sprint.
Or it may just be too much trouble to do it perfectly. I play guitar pretty well, but I decided long ago it would be way too much work to master it.
All in all, I end up averaging a B on most of what I do. That works for me – but I am so glad that Jesus set His heart on more.
He wants to see nothing less than perfection worked in me – not by me – but in me.
This is how Paul put it in Philippians 1:6, “For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
On the day a person comes to faith, the Lord makes some fundamental changes. Our old natures are put to death, and we become new people with new spiritual capacities to live in the way that honors the God who created us. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Paul tells us that it was Christ that began the process and He continues to work at it on a frequent basis. His goal for us is nothing less than flawless perfection.
So how do we get from here to there? Remember that guy that irks you at work? Or what about the psoriasis that clings to your arm? James calls things like that trials and he says that these trials are a good for you. They refine you “so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.” -James 1:4
But there are other tools as well in the Lord’s toolbox to help develop quality in us. Perfection grows as we read and apply God’s Word (John 17:17) and as we respond to the nudge of His Spirit (John 16:8) and as we interact with each other (Colossians 3:16)
Some of you are saying, “Too late. I have already arrived. Meet Mr. Perfect.” OK not sure conceit is a part of the finished package.
This is what Paul said about this expedition to perfection. “Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.” – Philippians 3:12
Paul was still in process as are all of us and he tells us that it will not be complete until Jesus’ return. For then we shall see Him and we shall be made just as He is – in perfection. (1 John 3:2) In the meantime, we strive along in Jesus’ power to reach the goal.
I must say that because of Christ’s work in me, my life is of a much better quality than it once was, but I am still a far piece from perfect. He has tamed my temper quite a lot which makes it all the more galling on the unusual occasion that I lose it.
So, what if Jesus approached His work by using my B level mentality. He might say, “Well I’d like to make Jim a better person but it’s just impossible – actually Jim’s impossible.” Or more realistically, Jesus might say of me, “Nah he’s just too much work.”
Fortunately for me and you, Jesus plans on getting straight A’s.
A PRAYER: Lord I am glad the process in me depends on you and not me. Have your way!
All Scripture references are from the NETBible®