RS/MP Lesson 6: Becoming Perfect before the Lord: “A Little Better Day by Day”(Lorenzo Snow Manual)
Posted by kirkcaudle on March 4, 2013
I will provide some thoughts on this lesson section by section this month. The link to the full lesson can be found here.
“Do not expect to become perfect at once. If you do, you will be disappointed. Be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today.”
With diligence, patience, and divine aid, we can obey the Lord’s command to be perfect.
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect” (Gen 17:1).
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
What does the word perfection (as used in these verses) mean to you?
The Greek word translated as “perfect” in the above quoted Matthew verse can mean many things. Among these definitions are: 1) brought to its end, finished 2) wanting nothing necessary to completeness 3) perfect 4) that which is perfect 4a) consummate human integrity and virtue 4b) of men 4b1) full grown, adult, of full age, mature.
Lorenzo Snow said, “We may think that we cannot live up to the perfect law, that the work of perfecting ourselves is too difficult. This may be true in part, but the fact still remains that it is a command of the Almighty to us and we cannot ignore it.”
When we comply with a requirement from the Lord, we are perfect in that sphere.
When the Latter-day Saints received the gospel in the nations afar, and when the voice of the Almighty to them was, to leave the lands of their fathers, to leave their kindred as Abraham did, so far as they complied with this requirement, so far they were walking in obedience to this law, and they were as perfect as men could be under the circumstances and in the sphere in which they were acting, not that they were perfect in knowledge or power, etc.; but in their feelings, in their integrity, motives and determination. And while they were crossing the great deep, providing they did not murmur nor complain, but obeyed the counsels which were given them and in every way comported themselves in a becoming manner, they were as perfect as God required them to be.
This section provides a strong connection between “leaving” and “obedience.”
Does God ever ask us to live people and/or and places today in order to get us closer to perfection? If so, in which ways? If not, why not?
Rather than become discouraged when we fail, we can repent and ask God for strength to do better.
Now we are told by the Apostle John, that “we are the sons of God, but it does not appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he, Christ is pure.” [See1 John 3:2–3.] The Latter-day Saints expect to arrive at this state of perfection; we expect to become as our Father and God, fit and worthy children to dwell in his presence; we expect that when the Son of God shall appear, we shall receive our bodies renewed and glorified, and that “these vile bodies will be changed and become like unto his glorious body.” [See Philippians 3:21.] . . . These are our expectations (emphasis mine).
I have heard on more than one occasion that the LDS church expects too much out of its people. I would suspect that it is quotes like these that might add fuel to that fire. Are the expectations that President Snow outlines here fair to normal every day members of the church or are they too harsh?
How one can ask expect extraordinary things from non-extraordinary people (like me)?
And on the subject of repentance:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12).
How do these indivuals play into the repentance process and “edifying the body of Christ?” Does edifying the body of Christ help lead to perfection or do you think not?
The other day I read something on Facebook that I really liked from a friend whom’s opinion I respect.
1. Repentance is not a process. It is a change of direction.
2. Forgiveness does not follow repentance. It precedes and promotes repentance.
3. Pain and suffering is not a result of sin. It is a life of sin.
It’s not a perfect formula of course, but it helped me during a time that I needed help.
With divine help, we can live above the follies and vanities of the world.
When we once get it into our minds that we really have the power within ourselves through the gospel we have received, to conquer our passions, our appetites and in all things submit our will to the will of our Heavenly Father, and, instead of being the means of generating unpleasant feeling in our family circle, and those with whom we are associated, but assisting greatly to create a little heaven upon earth, then the battle may be said to be half won.
I’d like to say two things regarding this quote.
1. I like the usage of the word “received” here. The gospel is something that must be received, never taken. We receive grace as a gift from God. Grace is brings us into the gospel, we can never bring ourselves in through the door.
2. President Snow believes that once we believe that we how the power to live the gospel then we already have the battle “half won.” I know that many people will take issue with me on this, but I’d like to disagree with that last line. Once we open our minds and receive the grace of God into our lives the battle is won (not have won). We are on the path of perfect once we have totally given over all will to Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can “do” to win this battle. Christ has already one the battle, we just have to decide whether or not we will “receive” his victory.
We cannot become perfect at once, but we can be a little better day by day.
Do not expect to become perfect at once. If you do, you will be disappointed. Be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today. The temptations that perhaps partially overcome us today, let them not overcome us so far tomorrow. Thus continue to be a little better day by day; and do not let your life wear away without accomplishing good to others as well as to ourselves.
In my daily prayers there is one line that I almost always include, “Father, let me be a little better today than I was yesterday.” Does it work? Yes…other than when I push Christ out the way and mess things up!
Do you pray for perfection? Do you think that praying to be perfect is acceptable or should we pray for a task less daunting (such as my prayer)?
I suppose I don’t pray for perfection because I lack the faith to believe that it is possible for me to be perfect. I believe in my own perfection from a theological stand point, but in reality it seems something that is very far away and unreachable. Does anyone else feel this way? How should one deal with such feelings of inadequacy before God?