To daily and prayerfully read the scriptures will enable us to divide truth and error in our lives, to tear down the contention and the craftiness of men, to be like a rod of iron, guiding us along the path of righteousness.
And when the mists of darkness or the temptations of Satan surround us so that we cannot see that strait path, we can rely upon the scriptures and the counsel of our present prophets—the word of God—and we can can feast upon it every day of our lives.
Stephen R. Covey
BYU Speeches, Feb 22, 1966
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What do we mean when we say “the spirits of just men made perfect?” (D&C 76:69; Hebrews 12:23). “Just” men and women are not perfect people. They are imperfect people who have been justified through the atonement of Christ, who have been made perfect in Christ, and they are still on the path to becoming perfect like Christ. Their perfection, their wholeness, their completeness comes from God’s righteousness, not theirs, even though they were sufficiently obedient and diligent-that is, righteous in receiving God’s righteousness through the Atonement.
Since I have come to understand the difference between being perfect in Christ and being perfect like Christ, I have begun to see people differently, to see them as celestial people, to be less judgmental about personality weaknesses, psychological hang-ups, or behavior that is not Christlike. It has made me want to covenant with deeper sincerity and humility. It has made me more grateful for the Atonement, not less. It has made me want to be better and do more rather than be contented and rest on my laurels. I find myself continually reinventing my life and wanting to serve in entirely new ways. I still see many of my weaknesses and limitations, and I want to work on those and use more of the spiritual, enabling powers and gifts and the Atonement in overcoming them.
No one is perfect. But we can be perfect in Christ and eventually perfect like Christ. We can understand either one of those two ideas only by thinking about both ideas simultaneously. Otherwise we’d face the dangers of complacency on the one hand and a feeling of hopeless imperfection on the other. The key to experiencing both of them simultaneously is to be focused on blessing someone else’s life. Then the Lord will use us in his way, may even prune us so we will bring forth more fruit (John 15:1-5), and he will give us his enabling Spirit, his gifts, and his blessings to do whatever it takes to bless and serve another person.
Stephen R. Covey
Six Events: The Restoration Model for Solving Life’s Problems
Deseret Book (2004)