“. . . but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
LIFE IN GENERAL IS ABOUT GROWTH, AND LIFE IN JESUS CHRIST IS ABOUT GROWTH TOWARD THE PERFECTION OF OUR CHARACTER. Much of the happiness and joy that are available to us can only be ours if we know we’re making progress in the direction of godly character and conduct. When we give in to the forces of evil “inertia,” we fail to move ahead, and the result is that we stagnate. Eventually, our choice comes down to a choice between improvement or death. There is really no other option.
The Japanese word kaizen refers to the concept of “continuous improvement over time.” This concept is a part of what has made so many Japanese businesses successful, and it has made these businesses a model of effectiveness for corporations around the world. Kaizen says that while we may not get it perfect on the first attempt, what we want to do is continuously improve what we do in a never-ending spiral of positive growth. Businesses that employ the concept of kaizen find some way to improve everything they deal with — every time they deal with it. And over time, the results are nothing short of stunning.
Wouldn’t the results be even more stunning if we practiced kaizen in our spiritual lives? Surely they would, and it is no compliment to us that people striving for worldly goals in the business environment work harder at improving what they do than is often the case with those who are striving for heavenly goals. Jesus said a long time ago that “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
Yet here is an intriguing thought: can we not improve our track record in the matter of improvement? Can we not “do better about doing better”? Yes, we can. And when we exercise even one ounce of initiative to make progress in even one area of our spiritual lives, the devil has cause to worry. It is by steps like these, seemingly small but taken regularly, that our adversary loses his prey. Improvement is not a concept that he’s comfortable with.
“We must praise your goodness that you have left nothing undone to draw us to yourself. But one thing we ask of you, our God, not to cease to work in our improvement. Let us tend towards you, no matter by what means, and be fruitful in good works, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord” (Ludwig van Beethoven).