Dear Church Family,
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8
Why? Why is the end better than the beginning? I love new beginnings. At the beginning of a new school year the energy and excitement are palpable. The hopes and dreams of teams getting ready for a new season are ready to take off. Potential accomplishments, advancements, and promotions gather to make a play for our attention and efforts…at the beginning.
And every hope, dream, plan, and advancement that comes to pass in the end yields the sweet fruit of satisfaction and appropriate pride. That’s why the end is better. It means that along the way perseverance and endurance have conquered apathy and sloth. It means you have come through the uninspired moments (days or weeks), stayed the course, and finished the race.
The second part of Ecclesiastes describes it as patient in spirit- which is more literally translated: Long in Spirit. To be patient is to be long in spirit. Long in spirit is more than not being a hot-head or quick tempered. It means that you are able to sustain vision, focus, and effort through to the end.
The good news of the gospel is that God is long in spirit with us and with the whole of creation. God has committed the vast resources of his very self in Jesus Christ to bring us to completion. It means he has constructed our life’s circumstances to accomplish that end.
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
God is at work in you and it is his good pleasure to complete you in the image of Jesus. What a privilege that we are enabled to join God in the process as we work out our salvation. Note well it is not ‘work for’ but “work out’ our salvation. We are to be long