We’re commanded to be perfect, to live godly lives, and to be examples of Jesus Christ. This is a tall order because hey, we’re imperfect. The same God who tells us to be like His Son also reminds us that we can’t do so without Him. What is the purpose of this?
The answer is simple: to find out if we love God enough to choose to go home to Him.
It’s easy to think the Gospel, with its long list of to-do’s and don’t’s, is restrictive and limits our freedom. It could only seem this way from the perspective where any choice we make is justified no matter what, and right and wrong don’t exist independent of our actions.
Consider this, however: if you love someone, do you force them to be with you? Do you let them walk all over you?
Or do you establish standards and allow them to choose to be in your life?
Healthy relationships with our Heavenly Father mirror healthy relationships with our brothers and sisters here on earth. God loves us and wants us to be with Him, and that love is precisely why He gave us agency. At the same time, He has made it explicitly clear what we need to do if we want to return home to Him and share the blessings He promises to the righteous.
He gives us plenty of time to make righteous choices and even allows us to practice making those choices over and over again as we try to become more like Him and His Son. This is why we have commandments.
Perhaps one of the less understood commandments is the specific mandate to be godly. What does it mean? And if we’re so imperfect and flawed, how can we do it?
Elder Russell M. Nelson taught in 1991:
“Godliness is not a product of perfection; it comes of concentration and consecration.”
Many righteous acts are one-time occurrences. Many of the “thou shalt not” commandments are for specific actions. But the command to be godly is to live our lives in a certain way, to embody a certain process.
Concentration? It’s mental, it’s personal, and it’s an inward process. Concentration is our energy, our focus, our priorities. If those are centered on God and Christ, then our actions will align with Their commandments.
Consecration? It’s physical, outward, and is measured by how we serve others. There is no shortage of people in your life who could be blessed by your service. The need for service will not run out in our mortal lives.
These two things are how we do the work of godliness. Perfection is a process, brothers and sisters. We’ll never achieve it in this life, and that’s okay – the point is to work towards it every day, constantly renewing our efforts and recommitting to Heavenly Father.
So don’t be concerned if you wake up tomorrow and are, yet again, not perfect. Instead, concentrate on the words of the Lord and His prophets. Consecrate your efforts to the work of the Gospel, in your families and in your wards.
One day at a time. We’ll get there.
- “Gather Together in One All Things in Christ” -Elder David A. Bednar, October 2018
- “Cleansed by Repentance” – President Dallin H. Oaks, April 2019
- “Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, October 2017
- “The Race of Life” -President Thomas S. Monson, April 2012