Good Enough

I’m going to say something controversial. When we do things, especially things in furtherance of the gospel, I think often we should settle with “good enough.” What do I mean? You haven’t prepared enough for a Bible study you are invited to lead? Lead it anyway. You are not super well versed on all the scripture that might help your friend in need? Try anyway. You haven’t memorized all the arguments for the existence of God? Talk about Jesus to a skeptic anyway.

Now I realize that last paragraph is dangerous, and there are several ways to go off of the rails. But before I start my list of necessary qualifications, I need to ask, “is this a biblical concept?” Now John Piper has a helpful metric to use before saying something debatable. He says to ask two questions. The first is “is there a passage in the Bible that sounds like it supports this sentence?” and the second is, “Is there a passage in the Bible that sounds contrary to this sentence?” He characterizes it as having two biblical attorneys in your mind, each one arguing his case. So here we go.

For the prosecution

So, we start with a hard-bitten district attorney with a slightly wrinkled suit and a chip on his shoulder. He makes his case that I’m wrong. His go to text is Ecclesiastes 9:10 “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” Not too much room for half-heartedness here.

Then he brings in a text I have on a sticky note by my desk. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:24-25).

So he argues like this, “Whatever you do, you do unto God. Are you honestly telling me that Jesus deserves ‘good enough?’ If you do simply ‘good enough’ are you really working with all of your might? God, and the people you serve deserve the best” He narrows his eyes, shuffles some papers, and sits down.

For the defense.

The defense attorney is an idealistic guy who’s on his third cup of coffee by 9 in the morning. He has been working hard, because it is really hard to find scripture that says you can be satisfied with work that is just “good enough.”  So he has to spin a little bit of a longer case.

“The reason I think that it is biblical to be satisfied with work that is ‘good enough’ is because we are finite creatures. The Bible says that God is God and we are not. We have limitations that God does not.

So the question is not should we do the best we can, should we work heartily, but rather how can we work while taking in account our limitations? We see this is 2nd and 3rd John. John ends each letter by saying that we would write more, but he would rather talk to them face to face. (2 John 1:12), (3 John 1:13-14) John would rather talk to his people, but that didn’t keep him from writing other things. There is a limitation of distance, but John made due with what he had.

We deal with the limitation of time. We cannot do all that there is to be done. And often we don’t do something because we want it perfect. How many emails aren’t sent, church members not encouraged, people not told the gospel, just because we couldn’t get it just right?  James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” and James doesn’t add, “unless you didn’t have time to spellcheck.”

The verdict

I tend to go with the defense. I’m not saying to be sloppy, I’m saying if you are a person like me, who is often paralyzed because things aren’t just right, increase your margin of error. More often than not, I find my paralysis motivated by pride rather than the much more noble sounding reason of trying to “work as if unto the Lord.”

So don’t think you need to be overly polished before you go out and be open to being corrected. If Apollos did not preach an incomplete message, Priscilla and Aquila may have never have had an opportunity to correct him. And if they didn’t correct him, he could not have “greatly helped those who through grace had believed.” (Acts 18:24-27)