“And 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)
We are all a work in progress. Jesus began a good work in you when you believed and were baptized. You were justified before God. But that work is not finished yet. The work continues as you are nourished through the Word and Sacrament. That is sanctification that is ongoing.
My son Jacob recently began drum lessons. He is making such a joyful noise that I may need to put noise-canceling headphones on my birthday wishlist.
It is loud in the house, but a couple of nights ago, he was uncharacteristically quiet during his practice time. I asked him why he was not practicing. He said he was not sure what he should be practicing. I made a few suggestions. One of the suggestions I made was that he run through some of the basic sequences he had learned called paradiddles.
His response was that he had already learned these paradiddles. He didn’t think he needed to practice them anymore. I pointed out that he might have learned the paradiddles, but he was far from mastering them.
His drum skills need much refining. And he is far from becoming an accomplished drummer. He has only been playing for two months. There is more for him to continue to work on than he realizes.
It is true with many things in life that the less we actually know, the more that we think we know. For many things in life, we don’t know what we don’t know. We are ignorant of the things we have to learn and the opportunities we have to grow.
No matter how old or advanced we may be, we will always have new things to learn and opportunities to grow. One of the signs of maturity is being teachable and open to possibilities. It is to realize that the way we understand things may be insufficient and the way we do things may be ineffective.
I wonder if the reason that so many churches are struggling is because of immaturity in faith. We think we know how we should do church because that is how we have always done church. The result is that we close ourselves off from ways that would allow God to do more through us.
A “good work in us” is that God would open our eyes to our ignorance. It is to see that we have room to learn and to grow. This is one of the reasons that Jesus lifts up humility as such an important quality for his followers to possess.
Later on in Philippians, Paul will encourage the readers to continue to work out their salvation. They had received the basics of grace and faith. But he knew would always be learning to grasp how these are lived out in their daily lives.
Our prayer this day is that Spirit would open our minds to refine our hearts. We ask he would help us see ourselves not as a completed project, but as a work in progress. As a result, we would seek where progress needs to be made. Finally, our prayer is that we would look to Jesus to bring to completion the good work that he began in us.