by Charles R. Swindoll
When the Ritz-Carlton Hotels won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the owner of that outstanding organization, Mr. William Johnson, stated that now they would need to work even harder to earn the respect that came with the award. "Quality," he said, "is a race with no finish line."
He is correct. Competitive excellence requires 100% all of the time. Ever tracked the consequences of "almost but not quite"? According to some fine research by Natalie Gabal, if 99.9% were considered good enough, then this year alone . . . 2,000,000 documents would be lost by the IRS; 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents each day; 291 pacemaker operations would be performed incorrectly; 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions would be written (to cite just a few examples).
Instead of applying this negatively to the practical side of life, I'd much rather compare it positively to the theological. Remember that forgotten word "justification"? Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner while that person is still in a sinning state. He doesn't suddenly make us righteous (we still sin). He declares us righteous. How righteous does God declare us? One hundred percent righteous. Stop and think: Upon believing in Jesus Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, the once-lost sinner is instantly, unconditionally, and permanently "declared 100% righteous." Anything less and we are not righteous . . . we're almost righteous.
If we were declared 99.9% righteous, some verses would have to be rewritten. Like Isaiah 1:18, which might then read: "'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the LORD, 'though your sins are as scarlet, they will be light pink.'"
Nonsense! The promise of sins forgiven is all or nothing. Unlike the earthly race for excellence, the race against sin had a finish line. Otherwise, when Jesus breathed His last breath, He would've said, "It is almost finished." And we would have to keep working at it, adding to something Christ didn't finish at the cross.
Let's never, ever forget that God is into "white as snow," not light pink.
If Christ had paid 99.9% of the debt of sin,
not one of us would have a chance at heaven.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.