- Around the Church I hear many who struggle with this issue: “I am just not good enough.” “I fall so far short.” “I will never measure up.” I hear this from teenagers. I hear it from missionaries. I hear it from new converts. I hear it from lifelong members.
Elder Holland says we should not beat up on ourselves because we fall short of the ideals we have in our minds. We should be pursuing righteous living and trying to become more like Jesus.
- As children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become. No! With a willingness to repent and a desire for increased righteousness always in our hearts, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that doesn’t include getting ulcers or anorexia, feeling depressed or demolishing our self-esteem. That is not what the Lord wants for Primary children or anyone else who honestly sings, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.”
Elder Holland says that our Father in Heaven is the ultimate example of what Christ has asked us to become.
- I am grateful to know that in spite of my imperfections, at least God is perfect—that at least He is, for example, able to love His enemies, because too often, due to the “natural man” and woman in us, you and I are sometimes that enemy.
- How grateful I am that at least God can bless those who despitefully use Him because, without wanting or intending to do so, we all despitefully use Him sometimes.
- I am grateful that God is merciful and a peacemaker because I need mercy and the world needs peace.
Elder Holland points out that the commandment to be perfect should be viewed as inspiration to become more like him. Our pursuit to follow the path of the Savior should inspire us to greater things, not make us depressed because we will never live up to His greatness.
- At least one purpose of a scripture or a commandment can be to remind us just how magnificent “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” really is, inspiring in us greater love and admiration for Him and a greater desire to be like Him.
He reminds us that our only hope for perfection is through the atoning gift that God has given us through His Son Jesus Christ.
- Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven—we can’t “earn” it.
Elder Holland speaks about the parable for the man who owed 10,000 talents to his master. The master forgave this debt but the forgiven man would not forgive the debt of someone that owed him 100 pence. He compares these dollar values to $100 and the amount forgiven by the master to be 1 billion dollars. He says that this billion dollars is meant to represent something so large there is no way to pay it back. He says this is comparable to the gift of the atonement that the Savior has given to us.
- We may not be able to demonstrate yet the 10,000-talent perfection the Father and the Son have achieved, but it is not too much for Them to ask us to be a little more godlike in little things, that we speak and act, love and forgive, repent and improve at least at the 100-pence level of perfection, which it is clearly within our ability to do.
Elder Holland concludes with a reminder that we should not let negative feelings overpower the good that we are doing in our lives. Not reaching a perfect status in our lives doesn't make us losers, it makes us human and that is what God has given us to work with at this point in our eternal progression.
- Except for Jesus, there have been no flawless performances on this earthly journey we are pursuing, so while in mortality let’s strive for steady improvement without obsessing over what behavioral scientists call “toxic perfectionism.” We should avoid that latter excessive expectation of ourselves and of others and, I might add, of those who are called to serve in the Church—which for Latter-day Saints means everyone, for we are all called to serve somewhere.
- Every one of us aspires to a more Christlike life than we often succeed in living. If we admit that honestly and are trying to improve, we are not hypocrites; we are human.
How grateful I am to know that God has a plan for me to move forward in my progression in this life and in the life to come. I will never achieve the level of greatness that the Savior has and I am not expected to. What I am asked is to be a little better every day and try to make the path easier for others to come along with me. We will not reach perfection in mortality but through the power of the atonement, we will progress, move forward, and eventually reach that level but only with the Savior's help and the gift He has provided for us. As Elder Holland says, we can't earn it. But we can do things daily that help move us closer down the path.