Applying the Character Quality of Thoroughness

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

3 min

Thoroughness is carrying out each task in preparation for God’s personal inspection and approval.

When David prayed, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2), he used the Hebrew word rabah, which is translated 74 times in Scripture as multiply. He was asking God to cleanse him over and over so that there would be no trace of sin or iniquity left in his life.

Thoroughness in cleaning is not accomplished by a “quick once over” but by a deep cleaning and complete washing to make sure every bit of dirt or uncleanness is removed.

Thorough Cleansing

God’s chief concern for our thoroughness is in the inward cleansing of our hearts. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).

Scripture states: “If a man therefore purge himself from these [that which is dishonorable and unclean], he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Timothy 2:21).

God’s chief concern for our thoroughness is in the inward cleansing of our hearts.

Based on the need for inward thoroughness, we should pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24).

When God thoroughly searches our hearts, He will reveal to us the hidden areas of sin and uncleanness. “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Psalm 19:12).

Outward Cleanliness

God gave strict instructions to His people to have no sewage in their camp when they went to war, knowing that sewage would breed disease and destruction among the soldiers. Their thoroughness in keeping the camp clean was also to be motivated by the fact that God would personally inspect it. “For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deuteronomy 23:14).

Thorough Reformation

We also need to thoroughly change our ways to please the Lord. This was one of the requirements given by God through Jeremiah. “For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place …” (Jeremiah 7:5–7).

Thoroughness in Work

We have a tendency to do work as thoroughly as is necessary to pass the inspection of those who assign us the job. However, true thoroughness is motivated by the awareness that each job we do will be personally inspected by the Lord. This is the message of Colossians 3:22–24: “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

The Greek word psuche, translated heartily in Colossians 3:23, is translated as soul in 58 other New Testament passages and is translated 40 times as life. This means that thoroughness requires putting our whole souls into our work, including concentrating with the mind, directing the emotions, and using the will to do a complete and detailed job with excellence.

Since we are actually working for the Lord and not just for an earthly employer, we are to do a job that is consistent with God’s character and standards, which will no doubt be higher than any employer’s standards. Therefore, if we pass the Lord’s inspection, we should certainly exceed an employer’s expectations.

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you consistently practice habits of good hygiene?
  • Do you picture God inspecting the jobs you do?
  • Do you thoroughly examine your heart before taking communion?
  • Do you think through all of the factors related to a project before starting it so that you will be adequately prepared?
  • Do you clean around items as well as under them?
  • Do you complete all the necessary details of a job, or do you leave things for others to do, such as cleanup?
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