One recent wintry morning, working to clear a path through another heavy fall of snow, my thoughts drifted back to my growing-up years. I was brought up with the old adage that “a job worth doing is worth doing well!” and “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!”
Among the many lessons my Dad taught me – from how to dry a sharp knife without cutting my hand – to how to fold my long underwear at the ankles so it wouldn’t be a bulge under my long stockings – to how to ‘scribe’ in carpentry to mark and fit closely – to always telling the truth no matter what – one that stands out and, I think, helped to shape my character, was how to be thorough in whatever I undertook to do. That lesson served me well throughout my school years, certainly during my years of secretarial employment, as well as all the years since. Now it works well even when cleaning the snow from our decks and parking pad!
When I came to learn more of the Scriptures, I discovered that this is quite a Godly principle. What is God’s word on the subject? “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men….”" and “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Col. 3:23; Eccl. 9:10)
The context of the first quotation is addressed to employees (slaves, in Bible days) assuring them that they would receive their reward from the Lord for, in actuality, they were serving the Lord Christ. I wonder how often we think of our menial tasks and daily duties as “serving the Lord Christ”? Perhaps it would make a difference in our attitudes, as well as how carefully and how thoroughly we do our work.
The context of the second quotation indicates that this life is very temporary and now is the time to apply knowledge and wisdom to our actions. The grave holds no such opportunities!
In giving us these instructions, it is evident that God Himself has set the example of thoroughness in His workings. He Himself is perfect in every aspect of its meaning “His law is perfect…;” “His work is perfect…a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” “His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried (purified); He is a buckler to all them that trust in Him…and He makes my way perfect.” (Ps. 19:7; Deut. 32:4; 2 Sam. 22:31-33)
“…and He makes my way perfect.” In being conformed to His image, we are in the process of becoming as He is, by being “filled with His fullness.” Jesus’ own prayer just before His glorification was that He might be in us as the Father was in Him, that we might “perfected into one” - in Them! Then we are told that all Scripture was inspired by God, profitable for all things that we might be “perfected and thoroughly equipped to do good works.” The author of the book of Hebrews prayed that “the God of peace, Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ…” (John 17:21-23; 2 Tim. 3:16,17); Heb. 13:20,21)
The key, of course, is Christ “working in you.” As self is diminished, and Christ is increased, it will be Him working in us, “to will and to do His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
If it was in order for Epaphras to pray for the saints of his day that they might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God,” surely it is appropriate for us to pray that we may also experience that standing “in Christ.” (Col. 4:12)
It may take fiery trials and sufferings to bring about that
perfection/maturity/completeness, as it did our Elder Brother. But, being one with Him, as we share in the fellowship of His sufferings, we will also share in the power of His resurrection. (Heb. 2:10,11; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 5:8,9; 1 Peter 5:10)
It pleased the Father that in His Son all fullness/completeness should dwell and we share in that completeness. ”For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, Who is the Head of all principality and power.” “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will perfect/complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Col. 1:18,19; 2:9-10; Phil. 1:6)
Thus we have a confident expectation of the thorough working of our Heavenly Father to conform us to His image, fill us with His Fullness, and to fulfill in us the purpose for which He created us. (Eph. 3:19)
So, let us “let patience have her perfect work that we may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” for “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. (Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; forsake not the works of Your own hands).” (James 1:4; Ps. 138:8)
“Now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in the believing,
that you may abound in Hope,
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In Agape, Eulene