In my morning devotionals recently, Oswald Chambers asked the questions, “Why aren’t you a saint yet?” I just laughed the first time I read it, but I’ve come back to it several times since then. Despite the Wesleyan emphasis on going on to perfection, most of the people I meet in churches are not saints. What’s more, they don’t seem particularly interested in working toward becoming a saint.
Why aren’t you a saint yet? I seem to have gotten pretty comfortable with my imperfections. I know that Jesus saves us and forgives us when we aren’t perfect. But does that mean that I should stop working toward, striving toward perfection? Certainly not – God calls us to be perfect as he is perfect (Matthew 5:48). So why are we so content to stick with our imperfections?
Part of it may be pride. If we are actively trying to be perfect, to act like saints, some people might think we are getting above ourselves. We insist that people accept us as we are – warts and all. So they are supposed to grow in love and forgiveness while we hang on to the imperfections that would drive them away. I sometimes have a temper and Tom is the person that feels the brunt of it. Over time I get angry about fewer things, but when I blow up – watch out! Of course, the Holy Spirit convicts me but I don’t really want to listen when I am wallowing in my sin. If I am truly working at being the person God wants me to be I would repent sooner and be more willing to apologize to Tom.
Oswald Chambers suggests, in “My Utmost for His Highest,” that we aren’t saints because we either do not want to be a saint or we do not believe God can make us into one. I know God can do all things that he is constantly trying to make me better. So I have to admit that I am not a saint yet because I don’t really want to be one. I don’t want to live out the spiritual discipline necessary. I want others to accept me as I am so that I don’t have to do the hard work to change. All too often, I am a lazy Christian.
But I want to live in a way that pleases God. So I need to work on it. Why challenge the spiritual muscles of others if I’m not trying to change myself? Sainthood may never be within my grasp, but God calls me to do better.