Just when you thought you were done...
When I was 18, I worked for my uncle, a general contractor, remodeling basements, patios, bathrooms, etc. Not knowing much at all, I was learning as we worked. On a basement project, we got the studs set, and the drywall hung. We worked hard all day, and with my limited knowledge, I figured we were done. After all, it looked good enough to me to start painting!
Then my uncle tells me that we still need to mud the joints! Dejected, I complied and we filled the joints with compound. Finally, done…at least that’s what I thought. The next day my uncle tells me we’re still not done; we need to sand the joint compound. If you have never sanded joint compound on drywall by hand, then make it your life mission to never do it!
After several hours of hand-sanding all the joints, my arms were rubber; I could barely lift them. Though I thought the walls looked good enough after just hanging drywall, I saw the finished product of our work, and you should not be surprised to hear that when we actually completed the job, the reward of accomplishing all the work was far better than if we had stopped early.
I learned a valuable lesson: Just when you think you’re job well done is done, you can’t stop, you have to keep going, and the reward is worth it!
In the first century, the Thessalonian church was a stellar example of how a church should function. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul gives thanks to God for their example of faith, love and hope in Christ. In 1:7, he says they “became an example” for other churches as well.
It would have been easy for the Thessalonians to stop there, and consider their spiritual walk with the Lord as complete, done and finished. Receiving praise from the famous apostle Paul would have felt like a worthy enough acclamation; maybe even worthy enough to finally rest from doing good and pleasing God. Job well done; job complete.
However, in 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul does not give them that option. He pushes them further. Paul says, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.”
Paul recognizes the Thessalonian’s lives as pleasing to the Lord and obedient to his commands, but he pushes them further and says, “Do so more and more.”
Our walk with the Lord is never over while we still walk this earth. When we do as we ought to, we are not relieved from having to continue. Instead, we raise the bar for more ministry, more labor, more love, more faith, more hope, more evangelism, more work for the Lord.
Part of our sanctification is realizing that we are never complete while we remain in this flesh, even when we gloriously overcome the flesh.
So the challenge is to keep going, to keep moving, to keep growing, to keep battling your sin struggles, to keep remembering the grace of God as sufficient for all your sins, to keep pursuing ministry, to keep loving, to keep the faith, to keep the hope.
Jesus did an unfathomable amount of good in his lifetime. In fact, all that he did was good. If anyone had the right to claim perfection and take a break from pushing forward, it was Jesus. But, if Jesus had stopped before the cross, after doing all the uncountable good that he did, then there would be no salvation for us, and he would not have received the glory that is now his through the gospel.
So, I encourage you, and more forcefully, as Paul says, I “urge you” to do “more and more.” This life we live in Christ is never over, we must push forward, we must complete the race. We must not think that we’re done, that we’ve done enough. We must pursue others with love, share our faith with them, and show them the hope of Christ until our final breath.