– Richard Baxter
Practice Makes Perfect
They say that practice makes perfect, but that has not been my experience. Practice makes you better, yes, but not perfect. Only God is perfect. Having said that, we strive for perfection today in the sense that we are called to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet 1:15-16). No, we will never be perfectly holy, only forgiven by the Perfect Lamb of God, Whose righteousness is imputed to us (2 Cor 5:21). The Levites were told to consecrate themselves or make themselves holy as much as is humanly possible. The Hebrew word for consecrate means “to sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified,” and “be separate,” and though we are far from perfect, we are to at least strive to be so. That’s what sanctification means. We are to come out of this world and not be a part of the sinful activities of the world (Rev 18:4). That’s because we really don’t have anything in common with the world once we are born again (John 15:19). We must not lose heart, though, because sanctification is a lifelong process. We practice today to prepare for the life of perfection when we will receive our glorified bodies.
In this life today we are to serve one another because that’s what we’ll do in the kingdom. We may not know exactly what it is we’ll be doing, but we know we will be doing something for the kingdom someday, so we practice serving today for the perfect service that is coming. Paul commands believers to serve one another humbly out of love (Gal 5:13) and to submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus Christ (Eph 5:21). Every single believer in the church has been gifted by God, but it’s not for our own purposes, but to serve each other (1 Pet 4:10). This means we encourage believers, build one another up (1 Thess 5:11), and not tear each other down because all that we will do in the kingdom is serve the Lord, and who else that might be, we cannot say for certain. So in this life today we serve, not perfectly, but practice to do it perfectly someday in the eternal kingdom.
I know that there are so many different forms that people use in worshipping God. We can worship God on our face, with our voice, in song, in praise, in prayer, in thanksgiving, and even in our thoughts. Today we worship imperfectly, but it’s like practice today so we can later worship our Lord in a most perfect way because we ourselves will finally shed our sin nature and worship God in the way we were created to. Today we see through a dark glass, but someday we’ll see the Lord face to face (1 Cor 13:12), and He will help us to know how to worship Him perfectly.
Today we are not close to perfect, but God understands our weaknesses. We are being transformed day by day into the image of Christ with ever-increasing glory by the power of His Spirit (2 Cor 3:18). We are having our minds renewed in an ongoing fashion (Rom 12:1-2) and growing in grace and in the knowledge of God (1 Pet 3:18), but this transformation will not be completed in us until the day of His return. So it is true that this present life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it, and for that day I cannot wait.