Progress Over Perfection
Whey my boys were younger, they were quick to say, “I’m sorry” when they messed up. Sometimes, they said it for the millionth time about the same mistake. When this happened, my response sounded something like this:
“I know you’re sorry, and I forgive you. I will always forgive you. But being sorry really means little for you if you do nothing to change your behavior.”
When my boys were teenagers, I still expected them to repeat mistakes from time to time in some areas, but I also realized progress should exist. They loved Jesus, but they were certainly in training still in so many ways. I had to constantly keep telling myself:
“Progress over perfection.”
Unfortunately, many adults act much like teenagers at times, though there should be marked maturity well beyond that found in most teenagers. These adults live in convenient confusion and believe saying “I’m sorry” stands on its own without being followed by a changed life.
I’m certainly guilty. I’ve relied on my words to carry me a bit much too at times. I, too, have been conveniently confused, thinking that filling my life with learning and knowing stuff somehow means trusting Christ. The truth is, though, trusting Christ really means doing what He says. It means following His directions and not pretending to be confused over what God’s Word says.
James addresses this very topic in James 1:22-25.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.”
Let’s consider these truths from a few other perspectives:
“No man is better for knowing that God, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. Nobody is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell, there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action.” (A.W. Tozer)
”It is not enough to hear the Word; we must do it. Many people have the mistaken idea that hearing a good sermon or Bible study is what makes them grow and get God’s blessing. It is not the hearing but the doing that brings the blessing. Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them! If you think you are spiritual because you hear the Word, then you are only kidding yourself.” (Warren Wiersbe)
“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts I do understand.” (Mark Twain)
Consider the following questions for self-evaluation to know where convenient confusion might be plaguing you.
- What am I hearing from God and not putting into action?
- How might I be sinning by pretending to be confused?
- Have I stopped listening to Him in some area because I know I’m not obeying?
As you consider these answers, actively look for ways to move from being a hearer only to also being a consistent doer.