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Does God expect perfection or improvement?

 

 

Is it great to be 8?

As I attended a great to be eight presentation, I pondered how it is always our intention after getting baptized, partaking the sacrament, or praying earnestly for forgiveness that we will sin no more. Yet, usually within the space of a few hours or days, we make another mistake or commit another sin.

Yes, it is great to be 8

Last week I attended a great to be eight presentation, as my son will be preparing to be baptized this year. As I sat in the presentation, I reflected on the washing away of our sins, and how shortly thereafter we become imperfect again. It is always our intention after getting baptized, partaking the sacrament, or praying earnestly for forgiveness that we will sin no more. Yet, usually within the space of a few hours or days, we make another mistake or commit another sin. So if we are continually making mistakes and committing sins, how are we to follow the command in Matthew 5:48 to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

2 types of perfection

Becoming as our Heavenly Father is our goal, to return to our heavenly home and have eternal families. Yet, we then go around saying things like “Nobody is perfect,” “We all make mistakes,” and “I am doing my best.” In this life, none of us will reach perfection. We will all mistakes as we strive to become more like our Father in Heaven. It is safe to say that each of us will continue to make mistake up until the day we die. So if this is the case, does our Heavenly Father expect something from us in this earthly sojourn that is unreachable? Has He set unreasonable expectations that nobody will reach except our older brother Jesus Christ?

If perfection is the standard, we should each sink into a pit. If however, the standard is improvement then we each have a fighting chance to return back to our Heavenly Father. In a general conference talk in 1995, President Nelson taught, “When comparing one’s personal performance with the supreme standard of the Lord’s expectation, the reality of imperfection can at times be depressing. My heart goes out to conscientious Saints who, because of their shortcomings, allow feelings of depression to rob them of happiness in life. We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips... Our understanding of perfection might be aided if we classify it into two categories. The first could pertain uniquely to this life—mortal perfection. The second category could pertain uniquely to the next life—immortal or eternal perfection.”

“Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.”

“Eternal perfection is reserved for those who overcome all things and inherit the fullness of the Father in his heavenly mansions. Perfection consists in gaining eternal life—the kind of life that God lives.”

Improvement over perfection

As we realize the difference between mortal perfection and eternal perfection, we can rise from that pit of despair and understand that as we strive toward improvement rather than perfection, we can reach mortal perfection in this life. As Heavenly Father knows that each of us is on this Earth to learn and to grow, He does not instantaneous perfection. Heavenly Father only expects that each of us strives towards perfection, improving day by day so that at the end of this journey of life we can reach eternal perfection and inherit all that he has. So take cheer in our imperfections as we strive to improve, for if we continue to improve one day we will become “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

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