Are you ever discouraged by your own shortcomings? Do you sometimes feel as though you take one step forward in your spiritual striving to become more like Christ, then two steps back? I think this is a very common “ailment” among believers. Once we surrender to God’s call on our lives, we begin a lifelong process of spiritual transformation; this process is painful and messy as God strips away our reliance on our human flesh and we learn to walk in the Spirit.
Philippians 1:6 is one of my favorite verses because of the hope it gives me that this spiritual transformation process will eventually be completed. There is an end in sight, and as one worship chorus, Ever Be, reminds us, God will have His bride.
Paul is writing to encourage his fellow believers in Philippi; he is writing from prison and knows they are concerned about his physical well-being. He wants them to know that what is happening to him is part of God’s perfectly-planned and executed plan for his own personal, spiritual transformation, and in the process, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed clearly and loudly to the unbelievers – the very people who instigated his prison adventures.
After acknowledging his reader’s participation in the gospel ministry to which He is called, Paul tells them he is confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
You see, God is the One who initiates our spiritual transformation, so it is His responsibility to finish it. He doesn’t abandon His work in the middle of the process, regardless of the length of time it takes, the circumstances necessary to arrange, or the resistance of the human heart. He never gives up on us!
The word “confident” is the Greek peithō meaning to be persuaded. Why is Paul persuaded of this truth? Because he has seen God working in his own life, transforming him from persecutor to preacher, and because he has seen and experienced the power of God in bringing many to salvation. He knows the character of God and has been persuaded of His faithfulness to those He calls to salvation.
Do you think you will ever be perfect? The good work God began in you will be perfected, simply meaning it will be brought to its end. God will accomplish it. He will execute and complete His plans for your transformation into the image of His Son, Jesus.
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering when we will “arrive” in this process. When will God be done? Well, according to this verse, this process will continue until “the day of Christ Jesus.” If we belong to Christ, we are part of His body, the church. We will be revealed as the completed bride of Christ on the day He returns to earth to rule and reign over this world and takes His rightful place on the throne in Jerusalem. Our personal journey will end at our death (or at the Rapture), but I don’t think we’ll really understand the complete work of God in us until we are gathered together to worship Him as the completed body of Christ.
God began His work in you, and He will complete it. In the meantime, our journey is to surrender every day to His work in our hearts and minds and trust His plan. When your own personal failures threaten to discourage you, and the enemy whispers that you’ll never measure up, remind yourself that God won’t give up on you. Confess any sin and allow Him to begin again. He will perfect what He began in you. I can’t wait to see the finished product!