Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #54 --- Perfection

Quotations on Perfection

Perfection means completeness. The physician would pronounce a man physically perfect who had all of his organs intact and serviceable, whose bodily functions were healthful operation and whose stature, strength, and bearing were those of a fully developed man. And so a perfect man in a higher sense is one who possesses in well-developed measure the rounded attributes and characteristics of a full-grown man of God. ... Those who are straining every nerve in seeking higher ground will pay little heed to suggestion for turning back.... The Christian should be satisfied with nothing short of the best and highest and fullest in his spiritual development.

—Bryan W. Collier, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 9, 1919.

"Brethren farewell. Be ye perfected; be ye comforted; be of one mind and the God of Love and Peace be with you and bless you always." (2 Corinthians 13:11.)

Just here, in his introduction, St. Paul lifts up his standard so high that we almost wonder if the Lord intended we should reach it. "Be ye perfect," nothing less. With good grace and His help one day we will Needless to say we need not be uneasy that we will not reach it, although the final perfection will not come while this body of imperfections is here below. For any man, however, to fail to strive at that perfection is for him to fail of the high ideal set for him by Paul. Reaching into that perfect day we are to have ambition to know the things that are holy. The word of God is the knowledge we need in this perfected love. We should be glad that we have a nature that can grow and expand in the love that Jesus Christ has implanted in us. We need, too, to grow and be perfected in our devotions and our prayers, and when we languish in these how comforting it is to brace ourselves with the thought that God is at the other end of the line and we are in touch with His perfection.

—C.V. Edwards, The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, La., Sept. 27, 1909.

Christian perfection is thorough love. We cannot be perfect in body or in mind, but we can be perfect in heart and then we will use these imperfect powers of head and hand, in a blameless, if not a faultless way.

—John E. Green, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Nov. 9, 1925.

Set a man's feet in the right way, and he will learn to walk in it. Set a man's hands to doing a thing in the right way, and he will become efficient in it. "Practice makes perfect," provided the practice is in the direction of perfection.

—L. Bracey Campbell, Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., Oct. 17, 1946.

Christ's call to perfection is an invitation to consider our lives to be a work of art. He encourages us to enter with Him in the shaping of our lives into masterpieces of compassion, generosity and creative strength.

—Curtis L. Beaird, Jr., Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 15, 1986.

The drive to perfection can sometimes severely hurt an individual with anxieties, phobia attacks and compulsive disorders, all types of mental illnesses. To combat these phobias, stress and anxiety attacks, develop a strong belief in yourself and be more forgiving, tolerant and patient of self.

—Wayne Brown, Latter-Day Sentinel, Portland, Ore., April 19, 1989.

Christian perfection is not the work of a day, but of years, possible of eternity. The Christian longing for perfection is right; he should not be satisfied without it. "I shall be satisfied," said the Psalmist, "when I awake in the likeness." (Psalms 17:15.) But there will be no sudden transformation. Christian character is not obtained in this way. It is a growth. The highest development is attained when the longest time is required for maturity. The mushroom is the growth of a night, but from the acorn to the majestic oak is along period. So it is in animal life, the lowest forms are the most speedily developed. So it is with man's nature. Intellectual development requires longer time than physical and the spiritual longer than intellectual. As this continual growth proceeds, a man becomes a sweeter, nobler Christian. In this view we have a test of the reality of our Christian character. Am I a better man now than years ago? Am I growing? If not, it is time to examine whether I have the Christian life at all. But if we have this life, it will constantly grow into stronger character.

—Walter L. Lingle, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 5, 1901.

We cannot reach in this life a perfect knowledge of how to do God's will. We cannot have a perfect power to do God's will. The noblest and most earnest souls that live have ever felt most deeply their failures in the things they yearned most to do. Even when we know what ought to be done, we often succeed very imperfectly, especially in the truly great undertakings of our lives.

But while we cannot have a perfect knowledge of how to do God's will, nor a perfect power to perform His will, yet we can have a perfect willingness to do is will; and this good will on our part is the outflowing of a perfect love to God, such as Jesus emphasized as the greatest of all commandments.

—K.C. Minter, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Oct. 5, 1928.

Look at the meaning of perfection as it is taught in the Bible. Does it mean that one can struggle long enough against himself and his kind of world that finally every passion would be reined, every worldly influence subdued, every skirmish with degradation won? No, it does not mean that at all. The word perfect means one thing simply: usable. Perfection in the Christian sense of the word when used with sinless perfection means that a person does not intentionally miss his mark while he is at God's disposal.

Placing his life in God's hands to be used for divine purposes, he knows all about his own weakness, his conflicting desires, his spirit-flesh dualism, his miserable falling short of his own goals. Yet, he knows something else and better: that life is struggle and learning and there is no process other than trial and error, failure and success, disappointment and encouragement, hurt, pain, disgust, futility, faith and reason by which one climbs that steep ascent to heaven. ...

The best of righteousness is but filthy rages in God's sight. But he who fails to struggle toward the ideal has already lost his soul.

—Roy O. McClain, The Beam, Fort Worth, Texas, July 1958.

It is a mark of perfection to bear with the imperfections of others.

—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, June 2, 1930.

Perfection is the watchword of the Bible. It is our duty to strive to attain those qualities of heart and mind that will qualify us for citizenship in this world and for citizenship in the eternal world.

It was for the purpose of helping us in our progress toward perfection that the Christian ministry was instituted. In striving to become perfect we need not go astray. The psalmist said: "The law of the Lord is perfect." (Psalms 19:7.) And we also have a perfect Redeemer, one who saves from all sin. And this perfect Redeemer offers a perfect salvation to all. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:17.)

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said: "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:8.) What, then, is the perfection to which we must attain? How may we become perfect? God does not demand of us a perfect mind, but He does demand perfect love. Be ye therefore perfect in love and mercy, even as your Father in heaven is perfect in love and mercy. Jesus said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." (Matthew 23:37.) God demands a perfect, undivided love. Jesus also said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." How? With a perfect, undivided love.

Paul tells us that love works no ill to his neighbor. (Romans 13:10.) Jesus also said that we are to love even our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them that despitefully use us, "that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:44-45.) God hates sin, but loves the sinner.

In striving to become perfect, we have Jesus as our example, for "in Him is no sin." The psalmist said: "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace."

—G.A. Morgan, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., April 27, 1931.

Those people who boast of their perfection invariably manifest some unlovely and selfish traits. Purity of character involves as the dominating and controlling principle an earnest and sincere desire to honor God.

—William N. Scott, Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Aug. 17, 1896.

Most of us agree that we are not perfect but we find it difficult to see our own imperfections.

—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 19, 1943.

The ideal is the measure of achievement. ... What you place before yourself as most worthy to be attained exerts a controlling and directing influence upon your actions. Your ideal is always in advance of your present achievements, mounting before you like a guardian angel and urging you on to higher deeds, while it points with unwearying finger to the perfection which exists only in God. As your idea of yesterday becomes your own possession today, that of tomorrow is higher and more difficult of attainment. The influence of the ideal is thus the most potent factor in everyday life. ...

Motive is the test of character. You will become after a while what you really want to be. ... What is your motive in life? "I do always those things that please Him," Jesus said of His life. (John 8:29.) To please the Father was the supreme passion of His soul. ... God expects you to glorify Him in whatever way you can in this life. ... To be animated solely with a desire for God's glory is the nearest approach we can make to the ideal of life.

—David M. Sweets, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., June 5, 1899.

There must be no low standard anywhere. We must aim at nothing less than the divine example of perfection. This will brand us as God's children. If we are God's, we must represent Him. We represent a perfect standard which we have found in Jesus. He reveals to us God--our standard of perfection. Jesus shows us our distance from perfection and inspires us to seek after it. To be like God is the sublimest possibility of man and it is ours to constantly aspire to reach that standard.

—J.B. Tidwell, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 21, 1920.

Perfection without pain is never guaranteed.

—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, April 5, 1928.

The problem of life is to become whole or complete. The rounded out life is desired and sought for by all, and no higher compliment is paid to a man than that he lived a well-rounded life. As a spur and incentive in life there is implanted the desire for perfection, for beauty or wholeness, for physical and for mental power and supremacy.

With the base materials of which we are made we cannot of ourselves reach perfection. Are we then to be forever the sport of desire and unfulfilled longing? If we are to strive at the desired end there must be help from without. It must be help from one who has in himself perfection and who has a power to reproduce in you and in me this perfection of which we have only unshaped elements. Union with Christ is faith, abiding in Him with willing heart for the counsel He imparts and a readiness to follow the path He outlines and has Himself walked upon.

Approach to perfection is gradual. It comes not with a burst of glory into the power of the perfect. It is toil in spiritual things and the work of the Spirit of God shining into and purifying the soul. That life whose aim is to become like Christ by the effort to do as Christ has directed cannot fail of reaching the goal. There must be progress, for the normal life grows in every part of the natural world. The best growth requires cooperation, a working with Christ, a working as if all depended upon us and a faith as if all depended upon Christ.

The greatest privilege is to be as nearly as possible a perfect fulfilling of what God intends. The well-built man, the perfect physical specimen, the mental giant, the brilliant thinker, the deeply spiritual and the sweetly firm and resolutely upright life, all these appeal to all men. It is the sentiment implanted by the Creator in every man. Take Christ, the realized intercessor and mediator, the means of reaching the perfection all desire.

—Thornton Whaling, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 22, 1907.

He who aims at perfection has a purpose which goes to the bottom of every other principle of his being. The counter currents of his life, with whatever impediments they may carry, cannot affect his course. ... The soul whose purpose it is to be holy even as God is holy, strikes down deep through every other aim of life, moves steadily on its course, unaffected by counter currents and the obstacles which they carry, unhindered by the fiercest storms of human passion or temporal misfortune that may best against it, and cannot be stopped until it shall bask in the sunlight of a never-ending heavenly summer.

It is a glorious thought that as we reach forth toward Christ He is reaching forth toward us, so that our approach toward the Christlikeness is not measured by our efforts alone. While we are building Christ is also building in us.

—H.W. Williams, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., June 18, 1896.

We cannot get to a condition when we are beyond doing better. If I thought I could get to a heaven where there was no advancement possible, I don’t believe I should want to go there.

When we feel that we have done the best possible we should give God the glory and say, “That and better will do.” One characteristic of true perfection is the capacity for improvement and progress. Development is a characteristic of everything that lives.

—James E. Talmage, Juvenile Instructor, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 1, 1902.

Those who live nearest to Christ feel more keenly their imperfections.

The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., Dec. 21, 1911.

Let him who is without imperfections cast the first slur.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 30, 1904.

He who aims at perfection in great things, but is willing to be imperfect in little things, will find himself essentially an imperfect man.

The Friend, Philadelphia, Pa., April 1, 1899.

The closest most of us ever get to perfection is when we fill out an employment application.

Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Oct. 10, 1966.

Man's wisdom points out his own imperfections, while his ignorance magnifies virtues that do not exist.

The Journal, Logan, Utah, July 10, 1915.

It's practice that makes perfect, not preaching.

New York Times, New York, N.Y., Oct. 26, 1913.

Those people who are looking for perfection in this world should avoid mirrors.

Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pa., May 24, 1902.

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