Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Best Wasn’t Good Enough

It was summer in Collierville, and I don’t recall what year it was.  I was either in high school or college when my dad presented me with an offer to make a couple hundred dollars.  One of our neighbors had a small, white tool shed with siding that needed to be painted, and had asked him if he would paint it for $200.  Dad knew I wanted to earn some money, so he asked if I wanted to do it.  I had never done any painting, but it was just a tool shed, maybe eight feet wide and ten feet deep.  I needed the money, and Dad was willing to give me instruction, so I agreed to take the job.  Back then, $200 was a good week’s pay, and I thought it would be pretty easy to slap on a coat of paint.  I thought I could get in done in a week.

After I agreed to take the job, I learned that I had to scrape the peeling paint off of the entire building before I could begin painting.  It took at least a two or three days of scraping in the summer heat, and my shoulders and arms became so sore I could hardly move.  But I pressed on until the scraping was done.  Then I found out that I had to sand the entire building to get it ready for painting.  That took at least another day of work, and I was sore and exhausted from working in the summer heat.

Finally, the time had come to begin painting.  Mrs. Sammons insisted that I use oil-based paint, which takes longer to dry and is much more difficult to clean-up than latex.  Since I was just learning to paint, my brush strokes were a little awkward.  I was constantly stopping to clean the paint drips and the erroneous brush strokes off of the door hinges and off the bottom of the shingles near the rafters.  It seemed to take forever to apply the first coat.  Of course, the job required two coats of paint.

Nearly two weeks after I started, I finally painted the door hinges and handles with fresh black paint, and the job was complete!  As I admired my work I thought it was a beautiful paint job.  At least it was a significant improvement over what the shed looked like when I started.  Time to get paid!

When Dad went to collect the money, Mrs. Sammons was not pleased with my work.  She said the work was sloppy, and she didn’t want to pay me for the job.  I had done my best, but my work was imperfect, and my best just wasn’t good enough.  Nevertheless, Dad convinced her that she should pay me, and she reluctantly paid me the $200.

When it comes to our relationship with God, our best can never be good enough.  Not before we accept Christ, nor after we accept Christ.  But when we place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, God continually extends His grace toward us, and we don’t have to be good enough to be accepted by Him.  Because of Jesus, it’s a done deal!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

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