Getting to Well Done

     There are two very well-known verses in scripture that speak of completion or ‘getting to well done’.  The first is John 19:30 where Jesus, while hanging on the cross, said ‘It is finished’.  The next verse is Matthew 25:21 with ‘well done thou good and faithful servant!’  Undoubtedly, all of us wish to hear these words at the end of our lives simply for the pleasure of knowing we pleased our Lord.   However, this verse also mentions a great reward:  ‘You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.

     For the past few weeks we have been looking at Love.   When we get Love Right we are better suited for supernatural power in our lives to serve others.   We learned that God is Love and we, as Christians, are called to Love as He loves.  We are called to love even when we see that people are different from us, broken, and in need wanting to be loved.  We also saw that our love must be based on values that cannot be moved when faced with hard choices and also that the present is a whisper, a vapor, held in the hand of Father God who is outside of, and unrestrained by, Time and Space.

     Along with these two verses mentioned above there is a parable from Jesus that speaks not only of loving care but also of a ‘well-done completion’ of our assignment.  This parable is best known as ‘the parable of the lost sheep’ in Luke 15:1-7. 

15 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.

So He told them this parable, saying, What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

 

Come Near

    In Luke 15:1-7, the reviled tax collections and the sinners ‘came near’ to Jesus to listen to Him.   These were two groups of people who recognized real love when they saw it.  These were tax collectors who collected money from their fellow Jews for the oppressive Romans and noted sinners, and outcasts from the synagogue who were shunned and downcast by the religious leadership of scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.

     This parable spoke directly to them because not only were they the ones so easily overlooked in the quest for success, Jesus was acting out the parable by reaching them and they had already seen that in Jesus which is why they so easily came to Him to listen to Him.

 

No Longer Lost

     The one lost sheep unknowingly wondered off – got lost, lost its way back.  This sheep did not simply leave to be separated from the others.  This sheep needed help to get back.   Many around us simply got lost along the way and like the outcast from Luke 15 they simply want to know that someone wants them, even when seeing them for who they are really and loves them, and are willing to help them. 

     When I got saved, repented and surrendered my life to the Lord, I had cocaine in my pocket and dope in a pipe.  I went home that day from work and flushed it down the toilet, smashing pipes, bongs, and all sorts of paraphernalia.  No one told me to do this, not even Joe Caddell, the guy who knew me and led me to Jesus.  I knew I was messed up, I knew right from wrong; I was raised well by a loving single mother but had lost my way.  Along with God’s love (also modeled by Joe), His powerful grace, and the Holy Spirit’s leading I changed.  I am still changing.

 

Don't Stop Until Done

     All of this is good stuff but the key thing that stands out to me in this parable is the reference to specific numbers.   I like numbers and believe they are important.  This parable clearly related the importance of ‘going after the one’ but it also relates to a sum of a whole.  Scripture speaks of a ‘hundred-fold return’ in places such as Gen. 26:12, Matt. 13:8, and Mark 10:30 meaning a full return or a 100% return towards the intended goal.  This is a key point because this is what Jesus meant on the cross when He said, ‘It is finished’. 

     Jesus told us, as recorded in John 10:18 that no one could take His life – He laid it down willingly.  Jesus did not allow the end of His life until He had accomplished 100% of what Father God had willed Him to do.  This should also be our life-quest.   We must be careful to get things completed properly and not expediently without thoughts of ‘well, I’ve got enough – 99 are enough’. 

 

Finish Well What You Started

    In closing, with God it must be remembered that He is not concerned with Time.  God is not in a hurry, not rushed or potentially caught off guard because He alone is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  As we become more conformed to His image then we will more surely rest in His strength and power.

     A great hazard of ministry is to become more focused on the ‘building process’ rather than the ‘builder process’.   The ‘builder process’ is of course being more focused on God than the things you are doing - not forsaking the walk with God for the things of God.  But as the rest of Matthew 25:21 above reveals, the process of being faithful also prepared the servant who is being made into the image of the Builder.  Paul understood and mentioned this in 1 Cor. 3:10 where he received the ‘grace of God’ given to him as a ‘wise master builder’ - to be able to handle more. 

     Many ministries today have gotten caught between a rock and a hard place because they focused more on building rather than the Builder and now they wrestle with being obedient to the Lord’s ever revealing will while struggling to maintain the status quo or with fear of losing people if they follow what God might ask them to do.  

     This would be a dreadful place to be stuck.  My prayers go to godly and well-meaning leaders who struggle in this place.  My prayers for them are that they find God’s will and step out in faith to follow it – no matter the cost.   Always remember the three temptations the Lord faced in the wilderness – Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life.  Many ministries are trapped in what may appear as a Catch-22 of maintaining numbers and possibly having to forsake the quest for ‘well done’ from their Real Master, Jehovah God - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

     God gives His supernatural power to the humble and those who get Love Right.  This is because they have learned to Love Him First rather than His Power and the supernatural.  They have been proven faithful.  Let us all be careful to stay close to God, not fearing the actions of people who come or go, agree or disagree, and go for the 100% completion to hear the words from Matt. 25:21:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.