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 ESV)
To know that God is not finished with us yet is to know an incredibly comforting truth! Until we get to the other side of the grave, we all will be under construction . . . a work in progress . . . and that means we all will make mistakes along the way.
I preached on this text some time ago and my oldest son, Brock, must have paid close attention to it. The next day, as we were working through a “minor” issue that all parents of 16 year-olds go through, Brock reminded me: “Dad, God is not finished with me yet!”
We all need this Gospel-reminder daily. Because God is the One who began the work in us and is also the One who will complete it, we can rest in our redemption, knowing the power for positive change is found in the promise itself, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). What God promised to do—to bring us to completion—He will carry out. Nothing can stop Him. Nothing will get in His way. Now, to be sure, it may not happen the way we expect it to happen or within the time frame we would wish for, but what God began He will most certainly complete!
I think we find this truth easier to swallow when it comes to applying it to ourselves . . . but it is much more difficult to apply to others! All too often the patience we’re willing to lavish on ourselves suddenly turns into impatience when it comes to the lives of others. Or we may lapse into allowing fear to overcome our faithfulness, and we end up becoming a source of tension and discouragement, rather than peace and encouragement. And so we need a daily dose of Gospel-sanity, just like the one the apostle Paul gave to his Philippian brothers and sisters.
Remembering that everyone is under construction is the key to accepting their place in their story, knowing that it is God who is writing it. How freeing to know the pen is in the hand of our God! He alone is responsible for completing what He started. And what He has said, that He will bring about; what He has planned, that He will do (Isaiah 46:11).
The Gospel tells us that the same grace that saves also sanctifies. God does not raise us from death to life by saving grace and then expect us to make progress by the spiritual sweat of our brows. Yes, there is much for us to do along the way to glory. God identifies the “spiritual disciplines” (Bible study, prayer, church attendance, service, etc.) as the means He is pleased to use in completing what He began in us. But we must remember we are not completed by the good things we do; we are completed by the good God who calls us to do them.
Only the Gospel frees us to see ourselves as we truly are—broken and incomplete sinners in daily need of our Savior—as well as seeing all others as they truly are . . . broken and incomplete sinners in daily need of the Savior. We are all under construction!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!