Almost Is Not Enough

There is something sad about ALMOST.

The student who ALMOST passed. And failed.

The children that were ALMOST rescued. And died.

The plane that ALMOST made it to safety. And crashed.

Scripture has the story repeated time and again to warn us that ALMOST is not enough.

Romans 15:4  4For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Cain ALMOST did what God told him to do, but his sacrifice was not accepted by God because his life was not good. Hebrews reports:

Hebrews 11:4  4By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

This verse is clearer in the ESV:

Hebrews 11:4 (ESV) 4By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

How do we know God’s attitude toward Cain? Read the words of the inspired John:

1 John 3:12  12not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

We read of those who believed Christ, and were ALMOST ready to follow Him, yet because of the Pharisees held back.

What was written about them? What was their first love?

John 12:43  43for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

That made it too costly to give up!

Think about King Agrippa and the great opportunity he had—and let go.

When Paul spoke strongly of his personal convictions of Christ, what did Festus say?

Acts 26:24  24Now as [Paul] thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Paul replied,

Acts 26:25–26  25…“I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.

Then Paul spoke directly to King Agrippa:

Acts 26:27–28  27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

Hear the sad ALMOST.

28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You ALMOST persuade me to become a Christian.”

Paul replied with a full heart:

Acts 26:29  29And Paul said [to King Agrippa], “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both ALMOST and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

And there it stopped. Face to face with the most compelling, most persuaded, most dedicated disciple of all times, the king held back. The price was too high.

How close we can come, yet miss it!

Remember the Rich Young Ruler who asked Jesus the most pertinent question:

Mark 10:17  17Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

Inherit ETERNAL LIFE! What a dream! And the price didn’t seem too high. He likely felt pretty good about himself. After all, he had kept the law precisely since he was very young.

But Jesus saw something lacking.

Mark 10:21  21…Jesus said, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Can’t you see the young man walking away, head down, eyes on the ground. He ALMOST made it, but failed.

Look at Jesus’ parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. Five “wise,” and five “foolish.” For a good while, they all looked ready to welcome the Bridegroom. Then one lamp sputtered briefly, then blazed again. Another flickered, and went out. And another. And another. And another.

Oil crisis. The five “foolish” ALMOST made it through, but not quite.

Nothing to do but go and buy oil.

Matthew 25:10  10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

They ALMOST made it through, but that deficiency in their oil supply meant the difference between being INSIDE looking OUT, or OUTSIDE looking IN.

When Moses was leading the Israelite people out of bondage, they needed water. The Lord had a solution.

Numbers 20:7–9  7Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8“Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him.

Then what?

Numbers 20:10–11  10And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”

Doesn’t it sound like Moses and Aaron were getting short on patience? “Hear now, you rebels!”

11Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.

Moses lifted his hand and STRUCK the rock—when God had told him only to SPEAK to the rock.

Moses ALMOST carried out God’s instructions. But because he didn’t do precisely as God had told him to do, BENEFIT DENIED.

Isn’t that being TOO precise with the requirement? –but watch out! Who are we to complain against GOD!

It was a lesson for all time. It was ALMOST obedience, but not ALTOGETHER. Moses would not go into the Promised Land with the people he had shepherded for 40 years.

How complete and precise is OUR obedience, yours and mine? How many ALMOST’S in our lives? How many times must we say, “I ALMOST did it right.” Or “I was ALMOST patient.” Or “I was ALMOST truthful.”

It doesn’t sound good, does it. No, we want to be more than ALMOST believers. More than ALMOST persuaded. More than ALMOST Christians in heart.

God wants His people wholehearted, whole-souled, none of self and ALL of God.

ALMOST is not enough to get us the ETERNAL crown.

ALMOST ready when Christ returns? ALMOST meeting the standard? ALMOST passing the test?

NO! we want to be ALMOST and ALTOGETHER approved!