BE PERFECT! A perfect heart makes a perfect man.
'Noah was a righteous man, and -perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.'—Gen. vi. 9.
'And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and esoheweth evil?'—Job i. 8.
'The heart of David was perfect with the Lord his God.'—1 Kings xi. 4, xv. 3.
'Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.'— 1 Kings Xv. 14.
WE have grouped together four men, of all of whom Holy Scripture testifies that they were perfect men, or that their heart was perfect with God. Of each of them Scripture testifies, too, that they were not perfect in the sense of absolute sinlessness. "We know how Noah fell. We know how Job had to humble himself beforo God. "We know how sadly David sinned. And of Asa we read that there liune a time when he did foolishly, and relied on the Syrians and not on the Lord his God; when in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And yet the heart of these men was perfect with the Lord their God.1
To understand this, there in one thing we must remember. The meaning of the word perfect must in each case be decided by that particular stage in God's education of His people in which it is used. What a father or a teacher counts perfection in a child of ten, is very different from what he would call so in one of twenty. As to the disposition or spirit, the perfection would be the same; in its contents, as the proofs by which it was to be judged of, there would be a wide difference. We shall see later on how in the Old Testament nothing was really made perfect; how Christ has come to reveal, and work out, and impart the true perfection; how the perfection, as revealed in the New Testament, is something infinitely higher, more spiritual and efficacious, than under the old economy. And yet at root they are one. God looketh at the heart. A heart that is perfect with Him is an object of complacency and approval. A wholehearted consecration to His will and fellowship, a life that takes as its motto, Wholly For God, has in all ages, even where the Spirit had not yet been given to dwell in the heart, been accepted by Him as the mark of the perfect man. The lesson which these Scripture testimonies suggest to us is a very simple, but a very searching one. In God's record of the lives of His servants there are some of whom it is written: his heart was perfect with the Lord his God. Is this, let each reader ask, what God sees and says of me 1 Does my life, in the sight of God, bear the mark of intense, whole-hearted consecration to God's will and service? of a burning desire to be as perfect a3 it is possible for grace to make me? Let us yield ourselves to the searching light of this question. Let us believe that with this word Perfect God means something very real and true. Let us not evade its force, or hide ourselves from its condemning power, by the vain subterfuge that we do not fully know what it means. We must first accent it, and give up our lives to it, before we can understand it. It cannot be insisted upon too strongly that, whether in the Church at largo and its teaching, or in the life of the individual believer, there can be no hope of comprehending what perfection is except as we count all things loss to be apprehended of it, to live for it, to accept of it, to possess it. 2
But so much we can understand. What I do with a perfect heart I do with love and delight, with a willing mind and all my strength. It implies a fixity of purpose, and a concentration of effort, that makes everything subordinate to the one object of my choice. This is what God asks, what His saints have given, what we must give.
Again I say to every one who wishes to join me in following through the Word of God its revelation of His will concerning perfection, Yield yourself to the searching question: Can God say of me as of Noah and Job, of David and Asa, that my heart is perfect with the Lord my God? Have I given myself up to say that there must be nothing, nothing whatever, to share my heart with God and His will? Is a heart perfect with the Lord my God the object of my desire, my prayer, my faith, my hope? Whether it has been so or not, let it be so to-day. Make the promise of God's word your own: 'The God of peace Himself perfect you.' The God, who is of power to do above all we ask or think, will open up to you the blessed prospect of a life of which He shall say: His heart was perfect with the Lord his God.