“Be Perfect”

Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet

Becoming perfect is a process, one which begins in this life and which continues into the world to come. For a discussion of perfection as a process, see Robert L. Millet, By Grace Are We Saved, pp. 88-92 also Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond, pp. 136-42. (Compare Commentary 2:174-75.)

“I Would That Ye Should Be Perfect”

This is a staggering, a sobering, and for some a stifling commandment. It must be viewed in perspective. No person, not the mightiest Apostle or the greatest prophet-save Jesus only-has ever navigated the roads of mortal life without sin. No one but the Savior has done so in the past and no mortal shall accomplish that task in the future. How then do we proceed?

“We are never justified in lowering the lofty standard held out to followers of the Christ. Nor are our actions or attitudes approved of God if we suggest that the Savior did not mean what he said when he called us to the transcendent level of perfection.

Our task is not to water down the ideal, nor to dilute the directive. Rather, we must view our challenge with perspective, must see things as they really are, but also as they really can be.”

(Robert L. Millet, By Grace Are We Saved, p. 89.)

“Therefore I Would That Ye Should Be Perfect”

Some have attained perfection in the sense that they did all that was commanded them in the sense that they gave themselves wholly to the accomplishment of the will of the Lord. Specific persons like Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and Job are named in scripture as those who became perfect in their generation (see Genesis 6:9; Moses 8:27; Job 1:1).

President Brigham Young explained that “we all occupy diversified stations in the world and in the kingdom of God. Those who do right, and seek the glory of the Father in heaven, whether they can do little or much, if they do the very best they know how, they are perfect..... ’Be ye as perfect as ye can, ’ for that is all we can do.... To be as perfect as we possibly can according to our knowledge is to be just as perfect as our father in Heaven is. He cannot be any more perfect than he knows how, any more than we. When we are doing as well as we know in the sphere and station which we occupy here we are justified.” (Deseret News Weekly, 31 August 1854, p. 37.)

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4