Completing projects can bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. The longer or more important the task takes to finish, the more excitement at completion. Thinking of this in relation to what God tells us about being complete and understanding His definition helps us reach completion in every area of our lives. How many people actually think about being complete people? Knowing God’s definition of complete and what happens in our lives as a result of becoming complete will encourage us to push through, press on, and entertain one outcome – completion.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11 Paul says “Finally brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” The word for complete here is “katartizo” meaning “perfect”. He is encouraging the Corinthians to become complete, literally to become perfect; to be strengthened, or to be what they ought to be. This same word is used in Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete (perfect) in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
What a wonderful truth – our God of peace makes us perfect in every good work we do in order to do His will. The reality is we are not alone in this process. He works this perfection in us because it is His desire and plan for us to do His will not our own thing. We are ultimately not perfect, complete persons for anyone else except God. When we find ourselves complete in Him, we find ourselves being comforted, being one mind with other believers, living in the peace which passes all understanding, and we discover our God is with us, Immanuel.
Perhaps part of the struggle for us thinking of perfection is that we confuse the concepts of being strong physically and being complete. Was Jesus complete while He hung on the cross? Absolutely! Was Paul complete as he was imprisoned and beaten? Absolutely! We can be complete spiritually and still weak, physically. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:9 “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray – that you may be made complete.” Of course it is much “easier” for us to be strong and complete but we miss out on the process of completion God is working in us if we allow discouragement to overtake us while He is perfecting us even when we are weak.
Paul is saying he was unable to wield any power or control over the Corinthians because of his weakness but he was blessed to know they were strong in Christian virtue. How rewarding for Paul to know the people He ministered to were strong in virtue. Then he also prayed they would be made complete. In this verse, the Greek word is “katartisis” which also means “perfect” and tells us their perfection was completed through training, discipline, and instruction, all of which require hard work and a willingness to submit our wills to His will, including His methods, timing, and strategies.
In order to complete projects in life we must be willing to work (training), we need discipline in order to stay focused and we need to know how to do it right (instruction). Paul is praying that just as they are strong in the Lord, they would also be willing to be made complete through training, discipline, and instruction. In Hebrews 12:11 we read, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” We must be trained to walk in our virtues. Think about disciplining children. They are never joyful at the time of discipline in fact they are usually crying, angry, thinking it is unfair. But through consistent discipline they are trained and progress is made. We must persist in training through discipline in order to be righteous people of God. The Word clearly tells us there is no joy in discipline, and in fact, it will bring sorrow. Other versions use the word “painful”. It hurts! Literally in Greek it means it will cause the person mourning, sorrow, pain, and grief.
Our problem is we do not like discipline, training or instruction UNLESS it feels good or we understand what is happening. The truth is it will NEVER feel good. Not only is it not joyful but it is painful – two-fold approach. Once we accept this truth we can look beyond our circumstances to what God is working in us – the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Many times we look for a concrete “outcome”, something tangible after being disciplined. Understanding we are being made righteous broadens our view of what to expect through God’s training. Righteousness is that condition of being acceptable to God, being what we ought to be, the same as being “complete”. It is God’s plan and purpose to make each of us righteous and complete.
Now I can hear some of you saying already, “Well, then I must be rotten to the core because I have been being disciplined for so long and I am still not complete. I must not be righteous.” The problem with this way of thinking is we are missing the core truth – God loves us! He disciplines those He loves. (Hebrews 12:6) Because of His great love for us God does not soften the blow. He gives us what is necessary to produce the needed result, obedience. God knows each of us uniquely and intimately. His discipline, training, and instruction is specifically and individually designed to cultivate our souls by correcting mistakes, curbing passions, and providing instruction which aims at increasing virtue. This type of chastening (training in discipline or becoming complete) yields or brings forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
While we are in the midst of God’s chastening (discipline) we can be encouraged because through misery (sorrow), comes a state of peace, because of the fruit of righteousness. May we be encouraged to allow God to complete His will in and through us! May we all “Become Complete”.