Excerpt From God’s Gift of Perfection Series
Chapter 11 – Part 2
What does this mean? The command, "Be perfect," comes to the rich as well as the poor. Nowhere has Scripture spoken of the possession of property as a sin. While it warns against the danger riches bring, and denounces their abuse, it has nowhere proposed a law forbidding riches. And yet it speaks of poverty as having a very high place in the life of perfection.
To understand this we must remember that perfection is a relative term. We are not under a law, with its external commands as to duty and conduct, that does not take into account diversity of character or circumstance. In the perfect law of liberty in which we are called to live, there is room for infinite variety in the manifestation of our devotion to God and Christ. According to the diversity of gifts, and circumstances, and calling, the same spirit may be seen in apparently conflicting paths of life. There is a perfection which is sought in the right possession and use of earthly goods as the Master’s steward; there is also a perfection which seeks even in external things to be as the Master Himself was, and in poverty to bear its witness to the reality and sufficiency of heavenly things.
In the early ages of the Church this truth – that poverty is for some the path of perfection – exercised a mighty and a blessed influence. Men felt that poverty, as one of the traits of the holy life of Jesus and His apostles, was sacred and blessed. As the inner life of the Church grew feeble, the spiritual truth was lost in external observances, and the fellowship of the poverty of Jesus was scarcely to be seen.
Poverty is a truth many are seeking after. If our Lord found poverty the best school for His own strengthening in the art of perfection, and the surest way to rise above the world and win men’s hearts for the Unseen, it should not surprise us if those who feel drawn to seek the closest possible conformity to their Lord even in external things. We should not be surprised that those who long for the highest possible power in witnessing for the Invisible, should be irresistibly drawn to count this word as spoken to them too:
"If you desire to be perfect, sell everything, and follow Me."
When this call is not felt, there is a larger lesson of universal application: No perfection without the sacrifice of all. To be perfected here on earth Christ gave up all. To become like Him, to be perfected as the Master, means giving up all. The world and self must be renounced.
"If you desire to be perfect, sell all, and give to the poor; and come, follow Me."
Previously The Perfect Follow Christ – Part 1