I don’t typically remember individual sermons. Out of thousands of messages I’ve heard, I can count on one hand those which have stayed in my mind over months and years.
One of those impacting sermons was preached by our former pastor during a series on 2 Corinthians—a book I’ve read my fair share of times. But my attention had never settled on this particular verse:
From the context, we learn that Christians in another church were in need. The Corinthian church had initially responded with enthusiasm but had apparently failed to follow through on all they intended or pledged to give. In his letter, Paul urged the Corinthian believers to finish the good work they had begun.
As my pastor expanded on the implications of this Scripture, I was convicted. I loved starting new projects, but I often lost enthusiasm and quit along the way.
Interacting with the Scripture
In the months that followed, I meditated on this verse. I copied it out and hung it on my bathroom mirror until water splashes made the ink run. I read the verse several times each day and prayed for God to make me a better finisher.
I did indeed finish projects to help other people. Some of these projects were assembling parachutes to air-drop gospel literature and Bibles, filling bags with essentials for families in the Middle East, and making blankets and clothes for a crisis pregnancy center.
This story is not about how great I am for helping others. I’m not great—without that message from 2 Corinthians, I probably would have only finished a tenth of these good works which I began so enthusiastically. What I hope you will see is that a key to perseverance is steeping our minds in God’s Word.
Renewing the Urgency to Persevere
But the story continues. As life moved on, my mind did too. I wouldn’t say I reverted to life before that sermon. In recent months, I have finished a number of projects to benefit others. But at the same time, I have been more easily distracted.
A few weeks ago, before this month’s theme of perseverance arose, I was reminded twice of these lessons I had previously learned. The first reminder came through a sermon on the churches of Revelation. Jesus Christ charged the church in Sardis to wake up, be strengthened, and finish the deeds they had not completed (Revelation 3:2). The sermon didn’t hover on this verse for long, but I thought about it over the next few weeks. I was challenged by the truth that good intentions don’t count in Jesus’ book.
Soon after, the second reminder came during my personal Bible study. I read how Paul left Titus in Crete to straighten out unfinished business and appoint local church leaders (Titus 1:5). We have no indication that Titus had started this unfinished work, but he was still responsible to complete it. When we finish good work, Christ’s Church is strengthened.
Practicing the Preaching
This month, I am focusing on one specific project, making cloth diaper covers for friends of ours who work in full-time Christian ministry. They are thrifty and generous, but their ministry isn’t the type with big financial payoff.
Earlier this summer, I had finished half the set but had taken a break to work on some other projects. By working a few minutes a day, I will finish as many covers as I can this month.
Lord, help me persevere until I’ve finished the good work You’ve given me to do. Use me to strengthen Your Church.