Paul uncovered the deceptive practice of commending ourselves based on others’ faults in Second Corinthians 10:12-14. This practice lowers our expectations of ourselves and others to the lowest common denominator. On the other hand, by measuring ourselves against the standard of Jesus Christ, our expectations are raised to the highest possible level of excellence.
We often believe that we are incapable of measuring up to the standard of God’s expectation; as if we are incapable of ever achieving such a level. Is this an honest evaluation of our capabilities, or is it a self-deceptive and self-destructive practice in which we engage to justify our weaknesses and vices? Can we achieve the standard of excellence God expects of us? Consider this:
God’s revelation concerning the creation of man says this; “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; …So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:26-27). The last verse of Genesis, Chapter One reads, “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good…”
Since God created us “in His own image,” we certainly have the capability of excellence. However, the achievement of this excellence is not intrinsically within us. The prophet Jeremiah acknowledged; “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). In fact, when we attempt to “find our own way,” invariably, we fail, and sorrow and regret follows.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that every individual is created in the image of God. We have learned through reason and experience that our created image is not achieved through comparing ourselves among ourselves. The result of this erroneous practice certainly does not display the image of a glorious God.
To realize our true created image, we must achieve our designed purpose. God has revealed that our purpose is achieved, and our created image is realized, when we simply, “Reverence God, and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).
This truth is born out in the examples of men of the Bible who, evidently, came to appreciate their created image and strove to fulfill their created purpose through keeping God’s word. “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Job was a “blameless and upright man, one who reverenced God and shunned evil” (Job 1:8; 2:3). David acknowledged; “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32).
Jesus encouraged us to “be perfect, just as you Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). In other words, we are to fulfill and reflect the image of our Creator and Savior. Jesus is the ultimate example of this level of excellence. Since Jesus is perfect, following Him, perfectly and completely, assures His followers of perfection. While we may fall short of this level of excellence, we should never use our failure to justify a lower standard of excellence. Rather, we should acknowledge our shortcomings and be determined to do better.
Each of us can be more than we are. If we will reflect on our created image and follow our Creator’s guidance, we can be realizing greater levels of excellence in our life. — By Doug Roush