It is worth doing badly

Young GolferRecently, a coworker informed me that he discovered this blog and gave me some positive feedback about it. I am grateful for the compliment, but then a little bit of panic set in because there is a gap between what I say and what I actually do. I don’t live out what I know to be right and true. This guy has seen how far short of ideal I really fall.

But then the thought struck me; any activity in life that is worth doing, is worth doing badly. Let me explain.

When a new endeavor is taken up, the first attempts almost always fall short of the desired goal. Hence, the phrase “practice makes perfect” comes into play. With the exception of Harry Potter flying a broom, I can think of no activity which is begun with perfect results. Whether it be a sport, craft or an intellectual pursuit, the initial results are less than satisfactory. The fact that an activity is not done well is not an indication that that activity is not worth doing.

Many pursuits are never done perfectly. Take golf for instance. Even the best golfers have a shot or two in each round that they would love to take back and do over. The same is true for the Christian life.

In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul laments his inability to live out his faith completely:

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19, ESV)

But Paul, like the rest of us, is not stuck there. He offers hope just a few verses later:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1, ESV)

I like the words that I have heard ascribed to John Newton:

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”

Christians are not the only ones who struggle with living out what they know to be true. This is the universal condition. Even Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. In other words, everyone has to compare how they are actually living with how they would like to live and work to bridge the gap. To one extent or another, we are all hypocrites, we don’t live up to our own standard.

The good news for the Christian is that we do not have to rely on our own power to keep the growth process moving along. We have Jesus beside us along the way (Matthew 28:20) and we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth (John 16:13).

The fact that I sometimes do the Christian life badly does not diminish the truth of who Jesus is and what he came to accomplish. The Christian life is worth living, even if I fall short of where I think I ought to be in my level of spiritual maturity.