Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 24,25)

AS LONG AS WE REMAIN IN THIS WORLD, IMPERFECTIONS WILL BE A FACT OF LIFE. If we’ve obeyed the gospel and become Christians, we’re somewhere along a path that leads to perfect holiness. Some have been Christians longer and are a bit further down the path than others, but none of us, not even the most mature, can say that we’re without sin (1 John 1:8–10). We’re all works in progress. So since it’s God’s plan for our sanctification to be accomplished gradually through a process, we need to be patient with God (and with ourselves) while the process is underway.

Although we make mistakes and lapse into old habits, God is able, as Jude wrote, to keep us from falling away from Him completely. He can strengthen us and present us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” We should discipline our thinking and hold on to the confidence that God knows what He’s doing and is perfectly capable of removing the remainder of sin from our lives. Meanwhile, we must not expect perfection before the time for that perfection arrives (1 John 3:2,3).

This is no argument for complacency or careless indulgence in sin. “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2). We’re simply saying that as we reach forward to God’s holiness, we must not demand a perfection of ourselves that is impossible at this point. We must accept the fact that we’re on a journey.

The important thing right now, then, is not perfection but progress. No less than absolute perfection should be our goal, but as we work toward that goal, we’ll make more progress if we concentrate on taking the steps that are immediately before us. Those are always steps that we’re capable of taking, and we should be both thankful to take them and content to take them.

“The rising of devotion in an ordinary soul is like the dawning of a new day. Darkness is not driven away immediately. Light comes in small increments, moment by moment” (Francis de Sales).

Gary Henry — +

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