By Leonard Lauriault: Quay County Sun Columnist
Whew!! Finally, it’s done! I’d started a project during Christmas break last year that I hadn’t been able to, or taken the time to complete. It wasn’t a big job and actually, it was rather simple. I dreaded it, although I also wanted it behind me. The task was repainting a portion of the outside of my house. You might remember reading about that in my January 25, 2006, Quay County Sun article.
Some jobs are much more pleasant than others, but even the most unpleasant tasks sometimes are necessary to achieve a positive benefit (Hebrews 12: 2). To me, house painting is only slightly more fun than a poke in the eye; but, one has to take care of the outside of the house to protect the inside and its contents, which is a good thing to do. Since early in the year, though, finishing this job has loomed over me like an impending visit by the in-laws because I never got around to finishing it until now.
Now that the painting project is done for this year, it doesn’t seem to have been that bad of a job after all (remember, I did the scraping last Christmas and had a long break before resuming the job). That’s how most jobs are; still, unlike a woman I know, who having just given birth, was immediately ready to go through it all over again (John 16: 21), I’m not looking forward to scraping and painting another section of my house that I know already needs it. So, I’ll gladly wait until next year, that is, until next year comes.
If I could afford to have someone else do the work, I’d consider it money well-spent. I recognize that what some consider a miserable task is a source of recreation to others; so, volunteers will probably be accepted. (I know, I haven’t made the task seem very appealing like Tom Sawyer did and I’ll never be able to spin a yarn like Mark Twain. So, now I’ll get to the point of this article.)
Jesus came into this world to complete the necessary task of accepting the punishment for our sins so we could be forgiven for a debt we couldn’t pay ourselves (Romans 3: 23; 6: 23; Hebrews 9: 22; 10: 4; 9: 11-14; 2: 14-18; 4: 14-16). He knew his task would be unpleasant – even unappreciated by most – but he also realized it was the only way. So, he finished it in submission to God (Isaiah 53: 3; Luke 22: 41-44; John 17: 4; 19: 30; Hebrews 5: 7-9). There’s no doubt, though, that Jesus also was glad he only had to do it once (Hebrews 9: 26-28).
While Jesus paid the debt for us, there are things we must do as well (John 3: 1-5; 6: 24; 8: 24; Luke 13: 5; Revelation 2: 10; 2 Timothy 4: 7, 8). Like Jesus’ death, one of those things is a one-time event God requires as the only way in which we can enter into his covenant of forgiveness (Acts 2: 38, 39; 22: 16; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Ephesians 5: 25-27; Colossians 2: 9-13; 3: 1-4). I’ve never heard anyone say, upon arising from the water of baptism for forgiveness, that they wished they hadn’t done that. Rather, most readily express great joy flowing from a clear conscience because a tremendous burden of guilt was removed (Hebrews 10: 19-22; Acts 8: 35-39; 16: 25-34).
Although forgiven of past sins, the struggle to overcome sinful desires, including occasionally not wanting to do the good works God wants us to do, continues to loom over the life of Christians (Romans 7: 15-25; Ephesians 2: 10; Titus 2: 14; James 4: 17). We’ll still sin after entering into the covenant relationship with God, but we have the privilege of simply asking him for forgiveness (1 John 1: 5-2: 2). We’re not to continue sinning to merely relive the joy of receiving forgiveness, however (Romans 6: 1-7; 2 Peter 1: 3-9).
Going back to God for forgiveness can be difficult business because we first have to admit to ourselves that we’ve failed. This is much easier, however, if we view the admission of guilt as the first step in taking care of business in the process of returning to a joyful relationship with God (Isaiah 59: 2; Matthew 5: 23, 24; James 4: 7-10).
Do you have any unfinished business regarding your salvation? What are you waiting for? Whether it’s making up with God or another friend or by doing the good deeds you know to do. don’t put it off any longer. You’ll be glad when it’s finished (Colossians 4: 17; Psalm 30: 1-12).
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the church of Christ