“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.” (Matt. 13:40)

JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES founded the Oneida Community in New York State in 1848 based on the idea of perfectionism. In his “perfect” community at Oneida, members of the group followed strict policies in many areas of life. Although they prospered for many years, eventually the community failed. They sought to create a perfect environment without God; it was doomed to fail. Only God can establish perfection because only His perfect character can guarantee success.

A similar attempt was made in the Old Testament when some settlers attempted what they saw as possibly the beginning of a perfect environment. We know their efforts as the Tower of Babel. Their purpose? “So that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). No mention of God—it was all their own work and creation. Of course, God intervened, and the project was abandoned. Despite their desires, they were scattered.

Others have anticipated God’s provisions and tried to set up a perfect environment. Without God’s blessing, no such project can succeed. Thankfully, His Holy Spirit guides us into the experience of holiness. Though we may never create the perfect environment, our hearts can be filled with His perfect love for God and others. What is impossible through our own effort is possible with God.

Consider what you have learned by attempting something without putting God first.

Anne Adams lives in Athens, Texas, where she writes a weekly historical column for the Athens Review newspaper.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.