“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is one of my favorite verses. It speaks of God’s long term intentions with us. When He starts something, He doesn’t ever leave it unfinished. When we give ourselves to Christ, the Holy Spirit begins in us a process by which we will eventually become fully reflective of the image of God in Christ Jesus. Everything He allows to happen to us from that point forward is aimed at that goal. They are aimed at growing in us the character of Christ. They are designed to prune out the dead branches in us in order to make room for the new, live, fruitful branches He has set to growing.
Through all the various trials and tribulations, the ups and downs of life, our heavenly Father is working on us through His Spirit to move us in this direction. But, notice well when Paul says this process will finally be made complete. The day of Jesus Christ. That means that until that point, we are in process. It is a process that should be moving forward, not backwards, but it is a process all the same. This means that while we should never seek out or celebrate times of retreat, neither should we let them get us down too much. God is still working and will keep at it no matter what comes our way. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:10, we are God’s workmanship. He is making His masterpiece in us. He will keep adding strokes until He knows we are complete.