Friday, October 20, 2017

Stopping the Choir for One Wrong Note

In college I had the chance to study under one of the most respected choir directors in the state. Quite often, he would drive those of us in the choir crazy because of his common practice of stopping the choir the moment he heard a mistake. Sometimes, we wouldn’t sing two notes before he would stop us and start us again. You see, as far as our director was concerned, we were striving for perfection. We never really achieved perfection as a choir and I don’t think our director was under any illusions that we could ever be perfect. But he believed that if he pushed us toward perfection and we strove for it ourselves, we might get very close.

I have always enjoyed reading the Psalms, especially those attributed to David. But the other day something occurred to me that had never occurred to me before. I was reading Psalm 101, a psalm of David, where the psalmist writes, No one who acts deceitfully will live in my palace; no one who tells lies will remain in my presence. Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, eliminating all evildoers from the Lord’s city (Psalm 101:7-8, HCSB). Those verses sound great, but David didn’t seem to live up to them. His children raped and murdered each other but David never seemed to remove them from the palace.  He allowed Joab to stick around even though the military commander had killed his rivals in peace time and in cold blood. He himself plotted and schemed to kill Uriah to hide his own adultery with Bathsheba. David himself did not live up to the standard he set here. Shouldn’t that invalidate the whole thing?

No.

All of us fail and fall far short of perfection, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to hold the standard of perfection in front of us as something to strive for. Sometimes, our weakness and failures serve as a reminder of how important it is to hold up a standard of perfection. The idea that we should stop striving for perfection because we can’t ever reach it is like telling a baseball player to stop swinging the bat because he doesn’t hit every ball or a musician to stop playing because she plays a wrong note from time to time. We don’t strive for perfection because we can ever reach it on our own, but because striving for perfection points us in the right direction, even when we fail and act like hypocrites. We must maintain a realistic outlook that remembers we will sometimes fail but that keeps us pointed in the direction of perfection as we move forward.

Don’t give up the standard because you fall short of it. Just allow it to point you in the right direction. 

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