National Association of Marriage Enhancement

Work In Progress

Paul said, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Chances are if you have been a Christian for a while you have heard this verse. We have heard it, but do we really understand it. Let’s break the verse down.

Paul, who was inspired by God as he wrote this, is confident in the principle laid out in this verse. He who began a good work has a capital H. We know this means that God is the represented He. God began the GOOD work in you. God is good, and therefore that which is good by very definition comes from God. The GOOD work in you is not something that man can claim, for man by himself alone can do nothing good. God started what was good in man because what was good came from Him. It is not man’s work but God’s work. This verse is talking about sanctification. Sanctification is the act of growing in holiness as a result of becoming born again. This growth of holiness does not come out of one’s own workings towards but rather God’s working through us (and our cooperation to the Holy Spirit’s convictions). The good work of holiness cannot be attained through one’s own musings and attempts to get there. The good work—substitute good for God, since God is good and good is God—the God work will be perfected until the day of Christ Jesus. Again, He (God) is doing the completion of the work in you, too. He started it, and He will end it.

Next time you think that it is you doing something good. Be humbled! It is Christ in you! The Holy Spirit is lovingly prodding you along the treacherous and difficult road of sanctification. If it were up to you on your own, you couldn’t make it! You may be concerned that by leaving it all up to God, you will feel justified to live however you want to. That is not so! If you are truly saved, the Holy Spirit is working in you and convicting you. It is YOUR job to respond to His convictions, rather than ignoring them to appease the flesh. Your life requires a constant working submission to the Holy Spirit and all of what He is trying to accomplish in your life.

Here is the question many of you are probably asking: HOW does this relate to my marriage?

God has labeled you His work in progress. God has also labeled your spouse His work in progress. That being kept in mind, you can be assured, because not yet perfected and still in the sanctification process, your spouse in his/her fallen nature will at some point ignore the convictions of the Holy Spirit and sin. When you are married, it is very hard when your spouse sins. It is hurtful even when the sin is not directly pointed towards you. It pangs you to see your spouse fall, because as one flesh and covenanted with the Father, you know how that hurts His spirit. This is the time where as a spouse you must access Jesus’ grace and mercy and practice them in your marriage. It is very easy for spouses to get into competing in spiritual Olympic games. They want to rub it into the other ones face when “they win.” Well if they understood that it was never THEM winning, rather the Holy Spirit in them. Then they could not lord it over their spouse, and it would be easier to practice the grace and mercy necessary to help your spouse through their spiritual journey.

In summary, remember to stay humble. It is God who started the good work, and it’s God who is completing the work in you. If you remember that everything is God-centered, you will remember that you are not better than your spouse. God just has you at a different place! That is why you need to step in and practice grace and mercy to help out your spouse on their spiritual journey.