Vol.XIII No.IX Pg.3
November 1976

The Perfecting Process

Dan S. Shipley

Of the many Bible characters Id like to be better acquainted with, one is the well-to-do young man who comes to Jesus with the question about what he must do to have eternal life (Matt. 19:16-22). I like his question — it indicates some concern about gaining eternal life. More moderns ought to be concerned about the same question. I like his past. He had loved his neighbors, honored his parents and kept Gods commandments. Sounds like a good man.

However, the Lord sees better than men. Only He could rightly answer the question, What lack I yet?. He sees the lack because He sees the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Here, He beholds a wrong attitude toward material possessions. He sees a heart that values earthly treasures more than heavenly. Now we see his answer as to whether he would be perfect (complete) as he sorrowfully leaves the Lord. But, hopefully, we can see more.

For instance, we can see that achieving the completeness suggested by the word perfect involves our willingness to do so. Jesus says, if thou wouldest.... Like this young man, many morally good and religious people do not sufficiently desire completeness in Christ. Calvinism says that depraved man cannot have such desires. But Christ makes it a condition of completeness — If thou wouldest.... Again, If any man willeth to do his will... (Jn. 7:17) indicates the close correlation between Gods will and mans. Whether it involves learning, giving or serving God generally, there must first be a willing mind (2 Cor. 8:12). But, perhaps we can see too that becoming perfect involves recognizing that were not. Honest people will be willing to continually face themselves with the question, What lack I yet?. They sincerely want to be complete; therefore, want to know what is lacking. Herein lies the mark of an honest and good heart. He that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works maybe made manifest. . (Jn. 3:21)... Too many prefer to make a prejudicial defense of what they are instead of seeking to learn what they lack! In fact, many resent the notion that they man be lacking in anything. Such Pharisaical prejudice and pride are not uncommon in the modern religious world--and, not unheard of in the Lords church. Sin makes us less than what we ought to be but unconfessed sin will keep us that way — it seals our incompleteness by making pardon impossible.

Finally, we must see this perfecting process as something to be sought with patience. Achieving maturity in the faith is a gradual thing. Failure to realize this has discouraged some from even making the effort. They see an almost unspanable gap between their present state and perfection. Such should view Jesus question: if thou wouldest be BETTER... The first step is improvement, not perfection! The important and a binding question to be faced is not, Am I perfect?; but, Am I improving?. The ultimate goal is PERFECTION, but its attainment comes one step at a time; in achievable-size chunks — and only then, remember, if we sincerely will it and continually work for it with patience.