It’s Okay To Start Over

Philippians 2:5 says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:…” Hmmm…be like Jesus? That is a tall order to say the least! But the Bible is clear about Christlikeness being God’s calling on our lives. 

We can’t possibly act like, speak like, think like, love like, or look like Jesus…in our strength. However, when we ask God for the grace and love that it takes to be like Jesus, He helps us with that endeavor. For instance, He gives us wisdom to not say the first thing that comes to our mind when we are angry, and He provides productive words instead. He grants us patience when we are in a rush, and someone who needs a listening ear crosses our path. He pours His mercy into our lives so that we can extend it to others, especially when we don’t feel like it.  In other words, God faithfully leads us to make decisions that bring us closer to the goal of Christlikeness. 

As we mature, we will presumably heed His voice more and more.  But we are human, so there will also be days when we fail. Miserably. God made a wonderful promise in Philippians 1:6: “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.” This verse puts no conditions on Him fulfilling His purpose for us. Nothing that says we must be sin-free for a certain number of days before He completes His work within each one of us. Lamentations 3:22-23 assures us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Praise God that our sin does not have enough power to stop His plan for our lives! 

On our journey toward Christlikeness, there will be failures. But those failures don’t mean we should give up. When we go to God in repentance, He lovingly offers second chances and generously grants new mercies. 

It’s okay to start over. God is there with us.

Masterpiece in the Making

When I rest my head on my pillow at night, it is fairly common for me to categorize the previous twenty-four hours as successful or unsuccessful. 

When I consider the day to be unsuccessful,  often it is because I reacted poorly to someone or I left a loving deed undone.

For years, a judgmental voice beat me up over my failures after a rough day. Thankfully, it has recently become more common for that voice to be silenced by a gentle whisper, which soothingly says, “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.” 

Friends, you are a work in progress and so am I. It is reassuring to remember that God is not finished with me yet, especially when I have been a below-average follower of the Golden Rule.

In Ephesians 2:10, (NLT) we are called God’s masterpiece. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

We can leave the weight of our sins in the past when we choose to move forward with God as we allow Him to do His work in us. We can be confident that He considers each of us to be masterpieces even while we are in the “work-in-progress” process.

The work-in-progress message of Philippians 1:6 is one for us to embrace as we strive to live faith-filled, Christlike lives. But let us be cautious not to allow the fact that God is not finished with us yet to be an excuse to knowingly fall short of striving to be who Jesus has called us to be. 

In between beating ourselves up for our sins and sweeping every offense under a blanket of “Nobody is perfect” grace, there is a line. It is an important line where Christ shows us how to display His character in every situation. A line where we endeavor to stand against the excuses that the world gives us and lean on the promise that God gives us instead: We are a work in progress…a masterpiece in the making!

At the end of those rough days that are undoubtedly going to happen, listen to the whisper that says, “He who began a good work in you…considers you to be His masterpiece!”