Ezra 3:11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:
“He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
The people were right to rejoice at beginning to rebuild the temple, but the record shows that the work lagged badly before it was finally completed. This is a very common pattern in just about every human endeavor. We get all enthused over new projects, but get bogged down in the slog of completing them. This applies specifically to ourselves as well. We want to lose weight, for example, and are all fired up about a new diet, but before we know it we’re tired of it, and in no time our overweight has returned. Learning a musical instrument takes time and lots of persistence – and ear plugs for those in the neighborhood! We are quick to make promises of all sorts, but when they become difficult or even inconvenient to fulfill, those promises tend to dissolve. It has always struck me that in Jesus’ parable of the talents, the words of approval for the good servants were, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (emphasis added, Matthew 25:21, 23) The Bible has a lot to say about faithfulness. One of the most encouraging things Paul wrote was, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Conversely, “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13) We are confronted with our own lack of faithfulness all too often, but our salvation lies in the absolute faithfulness of God.
I’m certainly talking to myself here! In the Motivational Gifts teaching developed by Don and Katie Fortune, one of the negatives of Teacher gifting is listed as the tendency to start things and not complete them. That’s me in spades! That’s one of many reasons I’m totally convinced of the absolute necessity of the grace of God. I’ve stuck it out here in Omura for 40 years now, but I’m not sure if that’s faithfulness so much as it is inertia! I have given up on more things than I could count, and I’m deeply grateful that God hasn’t given up on me. Were the roles reversed, I would have given up on me a long time ago! In addition to the verse from Philippians 1 that I’ve already quoted, I take comfort in something Paul wrote right after that: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) I know that He’s steering me right, and I just need to keep listening and following, not in my own strength but in the strength He provides.
Father, thank You indeed for Your faithfulness. Thank You that my insignificant faithfulness doesn’t really matter. Help me indeed follow through in everything You have assigned to me, in spite of myself at times, so that Your purposes may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!