“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 (NRSV)
Have you ever heard the expression “There’s no such thing as a sure thing?” I suspect most folks have heard it. In other words you cannot depend on money invested in some enterprise yielding you a hefty profit. You might be very disappointed if you expect your stocks to go up in value quickly. The business venture might sound great, but there are so many factors, that even with hard work, one is not guaranteed success. Yes, we are well acquainted with that expression and may come to believe it wholeheartedly.
But then patriot Benjamin Franklin assured us that two things in life are sure. He wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” We have generally accepted the truth of that statement as we have yet to see anyone go to heaven without first having died on earth. We have generally accepted the truth of that statement as we write checks to the United States Treasury to pay our taxes by or before April 15 of each year.
But then we find two examples of people who were taken up into heaven without dying. In Genesis 5:24 we read, “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him.” In II Kings 2:11, we read, “As they [Elijah and Elisha] continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” So death is not certain, or it was not for Enoch and Elijah. Also, some people manage to use tax laws to their advantage so that they do not have to pay taxes … and so for some taxes are not certain. The majority of us do pay taxes.
However, in this wonderful letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians, we do discover that one thing is for certain. It was certain for the Philippians and, in fact, I believe it is certain for all Christians. So what is this sure thing? Paul writes, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” The good work that is begun in us at our baptism continues for the rest of our lives until it is completed by the day of Christ’s return. This promise offers special encouragement as we age so that we are not growing older, but getting better … becoming more Christ-like … thanks be to God!
O God, we thank You for the special loving relationship that existed between the Apostle Paul and the Church at Philippi. We thank You that his words to them are Your words to us. We thank You for the good work begun in us at our baptism and for Your sure promise to bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Amen.