Word of the Week: Improvement

Norma Jean and I have enjoyed a rich and wonderful weekend with the brethren in South River, Ontario, Canada, where I presented my series on Home Improvement.

The thesis of the series is that just like our physical houses need attention, repair, maintenance and even renovation from time to time so do the relationships in our homes.

Clarence W. Barron, considered the founder of modern financial journalism once succinctly observed: “Everything can be improved.”It’s easy to see the need for improvement in physical and material things. Roads. Houses. Building and Bridges. We all long to see improvement in the way our government functions. And, of course, we can easily spot the areas in which others can improve.

But what you? And me?

And I’m not talking about financial, career or material improvement, but personal improvement. Self-improvement.

Regarding our homes, it’s very easy to see how our spouse could improve. Or our children. Or our parents. But what about us? American businessman Bo Bennett once quipped, “Spend some time this weekend on home improvement; improve your attitude toward your family.” How can I be more loving? More patient? More responsible? And less irritable? Less demanding? Less self-absorbed?

I often hear people criticize local churches. Every attendee is an expert on how the church can improve. We critique the preacher. The song leader. The announcer. The Bible class teacher. And the men leading prayer and those serving the Lord’s supper. We evaluate the friendliness and hospitality of the brethren and the way visitors are received.

But what about you and me? Are we adding value to the local church? Are we doing our best? Serving? Teaching? Encouraging? Edifying? Using our talents? Extending hospitality? Speaking to others? Fervently worshiping? And joyfully engaging in fellowship?

The areas of improvement are obvious to us when observing the lives of other Christians, but less apparent in our own lives. To modernize the quote of Robert Burns, “Oh, the gift that God could give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” But even more importantly would that we pray the prayer of David, “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart” (Ps26:2).

In order to improve, we must see ourselves as God sees us. We must believe we can improve. Truly desire to improve. Identify those areas in which we can improve. And then make a conscious choice to set in motion a plan for improvement.

The Bible says, “Examine yourselves” (2 Cor 13:5). Are we growing spiritually? Increasing in knowledge? Developing deeper faith? And demonstrating the fruit of the spirit in our lives? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. And self-control.

The Bible command “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18) is not optional. And it implies that we can improve.

The Bible says that 12-year-old Jesus when home to Nazareth and was subject to Joseph and Mary and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Lk 2:52). If the Son of Man in His human state could grow and improve, surely that says you and I can and must follow His example to improve our lives.

Motivational author Brian Tracy urges us to “practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.” As Mark Twain once quipped, “ Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

Finally, remember the words of baseball Hall of Famer, Dizzy Dean, “Pardner, when you quit gettin’ better, you quit being good.”

 

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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