A Call To The Remnant

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Perfect is the enemy of good.

Posted by appolus on June 5, 2015

Click on picture to purchase this latest book from Frank McEleny

Click on picture to purchase this latest book from Frank McEleny

The phrase perfect is the enemy of good is commonly attributed to Voltair. Perfect may be the enemy of good but if we lose sight of the perfect then the good begins to wane. Perfectionists tend to come in two types 1. The high achiever. 2. The dropout. The high achiever is driven by his desire for perfection, it is a goal he can never achieve but it does not stop him from chasing that goal. The drop out has figured that to some degree or another he will fail at what he does therefore, because he is a perfectionist and knows that perfection cannot be achieved then he simply does nothing. And in between these two characters there is a sliding scale.

And so what does Scripture say about this subject? Php 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Paul is in effect saying that he had not arrived but was still running the race so to speak, still on the journey. Paul knew well his imperfections and it is right here that we run into much trouble today when we try to blend a theological truth with our practical imperfections. What do I mean by that? Well, in Christ, under His Blood, we are found to be justified. When God looks at us, in terms of salvation, He sees His Son. This is true. Yet, He also sees us as we are and loves us individually. He chastises those He loves and brings about their sanctification through the mortification of the flesh. Just as a good earthly father disciplines his children, so does our heavenly Father. If we as earthly fathers could look into the future and see our children as they will be in 40 years, and what we see is good, we would not then abdicate our roles as fathers now because we know at some point in the future the child is going to turn out to be good. It behooves us to train up our children in the way that they should go and part of this process adds to the final result. This is how God deals with us. Yes He knows we are justified, He justified us, and yes He knows that we shall join Him for all eternity when we pass over. Yet, in none of this does He abdicate His role as our Father. It is all part and parcel of the one thing, it cannot be separated out.

Now, take grace for instance. This is a much talked about subject in our day. It is a vital aspect of our walk with God. Gods heart beats to the rhythm of grace. It is our lifeblood here on earth, this unmerited favor we have with our heavenly Father. And we have it because we are His children. Matthew Henry says of the above Scripture in Philippians that “Those who think they have grace enough give proof that they have little enough, or rather that they have none at all; because, wherever there is true grace, there is a desire of more grace, and a pressing towards the perfection of grace.” Does that make sense to you? Paul, who was richly blessed with a walk that would be the envy of almost every saint that ever lived does not count himself as one who has already arrived, but as one who was still running the race towards the finish line. This is the mark of the one who seeks the fullness of Christ. One counts himself as still running, the other says that he need not run for he already has all that he needs. There is a very subtle distinction here which the enemy of our souls, through sophistry, has made much mischief out of.

And so if we return to our two groups of perfectionists, the high achiever and the drop out, which one would you reckon the Apostle Paul belonged to? Now both groups recognize the same truth, yet one strives towards it and the other simply does not. Yet, as Matthew Henry points out, the true recipient of grace simply longs for more grace. Those who strive to be like Jesus simply press on towards the goal before them. Those who cynically say that one could never achieve such a goal, simply fall back. They point out multiple failures and use that as proof that they can never achieve what they strive for therefore it is wrong to strive. Yet what does Paul say in these same verses?

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Php 3:13-15)

Now, we may not understand all things as Christians and we may differ in lesser non-essential matters, but saints will be identified as those who have Christ as the centrality of their lives and who are pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Christ is their all in all. Even although they fail they keep going. Even although they fall, they get up. Even although they cannot attain perfection, they strive towards it. It is their high calling. This is the bar that has been set, not to set us up for failure, which we will fail anyway along the way, but to set us up for victory over second best. To set us up for victory over the path of least resistance. To set us up for victory over apathy. To set us up for victory over life itself and all of its trials and tribulations.

The trajectory of our lives is Christ Himself and being like Him. Yes this will come with disappointments and failures. And yes often times we will feel like failures and it wont feel good. Time and again it will be a blow to our self-esteem. We wont always be able to sing Cumbaya around the campfire. You will be mocked and ridiculed. Can I say “welcome to the battle field that is our walk along the narrow way.” Can I also say that time and time again you will be revived by grace. You will be sustained by grace, you will be overwhelmed by grace. You will come to completely rely upon grace as your very life-blood. And each time you press in you press in a little closer into the Fathers heart. Every time He picks you up your love for Him will grow. Ever time He heals you of hurts your love for Him will grow. Every time He forgives you, your love for Him will grow. Every time He makes a way of escape for you, your faith in Him will grow. Every victory you see in Him you will know without a shadow of a doubt where the glory belongs. Saints, this is part and parcel of our walk with Him and it is a rich tapestry called life itself. Never let the good be the enemy of perfection. He deserves our all in all. It is this that He loves. He is well pleased with the one who gives his all time and time again. Grace is highlighted in the revelation of our imperfections as we strive towards perfection. Grace magnifies Christ who shows us the Father’s heart.

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