BE PERFECT! We Pray for your Perfecting: Be Perfected
'This we also pray for, even your perfecting. . . . Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.'—2 Cor. xiii, 9, 11.
THE word here translated perfect means to -*- bring a thing into its right condition, so that it is as it should be.9 It is used of mending nets, restoring them to their right state, or of equipping a ship: fitting it out with all it should have. It implies thus two things: the removal of all that is still wrong; the supply of all that is still wanting.
Within two verses Paul uses the word twice. First, as the expression of the one thing which he asks of God for them, the summary of all grace and blessing: 'This we pray for, even your perfecting.' That you be perfectly free from all that is wrong and carnal, and that you should perfectly possess and exhibit all that God would have you be: we pray for your perfecting. Next as the summing up in a farewell word of what He would have them aim at. 'Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfected.' And then follow three other verbs, which show how this one, which takes the lead, has reference to the Christian's daily life, and is meant to point to what is to bo his daily aim and experience. 'Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace.' Just as the comfort of the Spirit, and the unity of love, and the life of peace are, if the God of love and peace is to be with us, our duty and our privilege every hour, so, too, the being perfected. The close of the two Epistles gathers up all its teaching in this one injunction —Farewell—Be Perfected I
The two texts together show us what the prayer and the preaching of every minister of the gospel ought to be; what his heart, above everything, ought to be set on. We justly look upon Paul as a model whom every minister ought to copy —let every Gospel minister copy him in this, so that his people may know as he goes in and out among them that his heart breathes heavenward for them this one wish: Your perfecting!
and may feel that all his teaching has this one aim: Be perfected!
If ministers are to seek this above everything in their charge of the Church of God, they need themselves to feel deeply and to expose faithfully the low standard that prevails in the Church. Some have said that they have seen Perfectionism slay its thousands. All must admit that Imperfectionism has slain its tens of thousands. Multitudes are soothing themselves in a life of worldliness and sin with the thought that as no one is perfect, imperfection cannot he so dangerous. Numbers of true Christians are making no progress because they have never known that we can serve God with a perfect heart, that the perfect heart is the secret of a perfect way, of a work going on unto perfection. God's call to us to be perfect, to perfect holiness in His fear, to live perfect in Christ Jesus, to stand perfect in all the will of God, must be preached, until the faith begins to live again in the Church that all teaching is to be summed up in the words, and each day of our life to be spent under their inspiration: Be Perfected!
When once ministers know themselves and are known as the messengers of this God-willed perfection, they will feel the need of nothing less than the teaching of the Holy Spirit to guide men in this path. They will see and preach that religion must indeed be a surrender of all to God. Becoming as conformed to His will, living as entirely to His glory, being as perfectly devoted to His service, as grace can enable us to be, and no less, will be the only rule of duty and measure of expectation. The message, Be Perfected! will demand the whole heart, the whole life, the whole strength. As the soul learns each day to say, 'Father! I would be perfect in heart with Thee this day, I would walk before Thee and be perfect,' the need and the meaning of abiding in Christ will be better understood, Christ Himself with His power and love will have new preciousness, and God will prove what He can do for souls, for a Church wholly given up to Him.
0 ye ministers of Christ, ye messengers of His salvation, say to the Churches over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers: This also we pray for — even your perfecting! Finally, brethren, Be perfected I