Giving it a lick and a promise

Published 9:01 am Friday, April 6, 2018

My grandmother used the phrase, “Don’t give it a lick and a promise” quite frequently, and as a child I had no idea as to what she meant. As an adult, I now know we often give things in life “a lick and a promise,” and my grandmother expected more! She wanted to make sure she did everything the best she could. She took pride in her work!
The phrase “lick and a promise” is 200 years old and means to run a damp mop over the floor quickly with the promise or expectation of doing a more thorough cleaning later. Most of the time, that more thorough cleaning never takes place. We have some of the greatest expectations, but they never materialize. The definition of “lick” in this case would be “hasty careless effort.” The “promise” signifies an intention to do a better job sometime later. Satan does not mind good intentions because they are void and empty of real progress. Satan does not want us living life to its fullest each day.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 states, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” The Word of God tells us to give life all we’ve got! I have been giving much thought to this fact lately. God expects us to give our relationships with our spouses, children, students, colleagues, friends, and most importantly Himself our best. Most relationships and families fall apart because of the hasty careless effort we put into them. We don’t want to put a lot into the relationship, but we expect to get a lot out of it.
We should remember life is short, and once the last breath leaves our lungs and the heart takes its final beat, it is over! There is no second chance, the buzzer has sounded, GAME OVER. We cannot add or take anything away from our lives once they are gone. We all have one opportunity at this thing called LIFE. Often our lives are like a restaurant with over 100 different entrees on the menu, but none of them is phenomenal. We do lots of things every day, but none of them seems to be our best. Mediocrity has taken hold in our lives, homes, and our churches! Quality is better than quantity any day of the week.
A restaurant serving five delicious entrees is far more superior to one serving 100 ordinary entrees. We all want to live a long life, but honestly someone who gives it their best for 25 years and passes away accomplishes much more than a person that is 95 and gave life “a lick and promise.” More can often be less. We can work, work, work, and be completely exhausted and not accomplish anything. Chuck Swindoll once said, “We’ve been programmed to think that fatigue is next to godliness. That the more exhausted we are (and look!), the more committed we are to spiritual things and the more we earn God’s smile of approval. We bury all thoughts of enjoying…for those who are genuinely dedicated Christians are those who work, work, work. And preferably, with great intensity. As a result, we have become a generation of people who worship our work… who work at our play… and who play at our worship.” A Christian life is not about how much we can do for God, but honestly it is how well we live our lives for God. Such a mentality can be seen in the attitude and actions of the apostle Paul. As a man totally committed to God’s purpose for his life, Paul gave his all daily to bring men to maturity in Christ. He did so by God’s enabling rather than by his own strength.
Without pursuing excellence, our lives, homes, and churches will remain bland, vanilla, and lukewarm at best. The Bible is clear that God rejects mediocrity. Doing something is not enough. What we do must be done thoroughly! Jesus gave his all, and did it right to please his Father! In fact, if all the marvelous works of Jesus had been written down, the world could not have contained all the books written! (John 21:25) These were not acts of mediocrity, but rather, works of greatness. God the Father says he is pleased with his beloved son. Is God pleased with what you do every day? Does your care, concern, compassion, and labor of love bring a smile to his face? These are questions that we must be asking ourselves today because tomorrow may not come. We have given life “a lick and a promise” for years and that mentality has left us feeling depressed and discouraged in all areas of our life! Let’s go on a pursuit of excellence!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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