Have you ever wanted to perfectly serve God: to love him with your whole heart, follow him completely, stay within his will perfectly? I think we all have this desire, to a greater or lesser degree, every day of our lives. And we would especially like to do it if we could do it today – now – right this moment. We want to be saints – but we want to be saints in a day, thinking we can achieve perfect love of God right now.
But we fail in so many ways. A couple of days ago my morning prayer was “Help me to love everyone today as if it was You.” I started off great, treating everyone with kindness and respect. But about lunchtime I forgot my prayer and went back to being normal. I shared a story about something “dumb” someone had said. The other person laughed and I laughed and just like that, I had turned away from following Jesus with every action.
Most days I would grade myself on a B level of following Jesus. I am above average but very far from perfect. Sometimes I wonder how I can have followed Jesus for so long and still be so far from being a saint. I am very thankful that the gift of eternal life relies on God’s grace and not my excellent behavior.
This does not mean, however, that we should stop trying to love Jesus with all our heart and mind and strength. Our prayer everyday should be to love others as Jesus loves us: to love Jesus completely, without reservation, every minute. Little by little, moment by moment, we show our faithfulness. And when we mess up (as we will), at least we get better at recognizing our sin.
We cannot be saints in a day. We probably won’t even love perfectly in our lifetimes. But we should never give up trying. Loving as Jesus loves is the greatest goal of our lives. We must always be “going on to perfection” even if we never reach it. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to demonstrate Jesus’ love for others beyond lunchtime. Maybe someday even until suppertime.
Loving Jesus with our whole hearts is our life’s work. And our joy.