Tuesday, April 28, 2020

"Good Enough"

John 19.12 NAS

“As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, ‘If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.’ ”

When I was a boy, my father comforted me with words like “Son, if you do your best, that’s good enough.” I grew up believing my best efforts were noble and adequate. I have always appreciated dad’s wisdom. He wanted me to know:

  • I could not take pride in work that resulted in less than my best efforts. 

  • No matter what the outcome, if I did my best I could walk away from every task with my self-esteem intact.
I still believe what my dad told me... mostly. Today I accept a qualified version of his wisdom. My “best efforts” idealism has been tempered. I’ve failed enough times to know that my best is not always adequate to get the job done. Personality conflicts, lack of information, honest differences of opinion, procedural changes, group politics, unforeseen events, pressures to conform, etc., etc. make it impossible to guarantee success every time I try. Sometimes my best is simply not good enough.

It’s easy to criticize a man like Pontius Pilate who “handed [Christ] over to them to be crucified” (John 19.16), and I have. (See this link: “Cheap Awareness”.) Today I’m rethinking that opinion contemplating these words: “Pilate made efforts to release Him.” Pontius Pilate fully grasped the fact that Jesus was innocent. He found “nothing deserving death” (Luke 2.15) in the charges against Christ. The governor “knew that because of envy they had handed [Jesus] over” to him (Matthew 27.18). Yes, Pilate made his final decision to condemn Jesus to death “wishing to satisfy the crowd” (Mark 15.15), but that was his job. He was required to keep order in his part of the Roman Empire. Governor Pilate became aware that his best effort to release Jesus “was accomplishing nothing, but rather a riot was starting” so he ceremonially “washed his hands” of the entire episode (Matthew 27.24). He condemned Christ with great reluctance, and only as a last resort.

Pontius Pilate tried and failed to rescue the Lord. He “made efforts to release Him” but his “efforts” weren’t good enough. Pilate left a piece of his soul at the feet of an innocent man he put to death. I imagine the governor never fully recovered from his encounter with Jesus. A memory like that would haunt anyone. He probably walked away from the incident humbled and broken.

I like dad’s advice and I still try to do my best. But when my best is not enough, I find strength for my battered soul from the advise of my Father in heaven:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3.5-6 NASB

The amazing artwork above was created by popular illustrator Will Terry. All three pictures remind me of my dad. He was far from perfect and we had our major conflicts growing up. But I know Dad offered me his best advice and the best of himself until the day he died. You can view and purchase Mr. Terry's work at http://www.willterry.com/.

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