to remind you that there is a purpose, a plan, and a Perfect Planner.
…that sparks a word study…
the word? “Perfect”
The comment was meant most kindly, and the implication was that, while God expects perfection, we all know that He gives grace when we fall short.
But it was like an arrow to my heart; the thought that God expects perfection. I wanted to lay down and die right then and there…I am so far from perfect, so astronomically distant from that goal that it isn’t even visible on my radar. If He expects perfection, even just once in a while, I’m doomed.
And yet, as I wallowed in my hopelessness, the Holy Spirit still nudged. He poked me in the back of the head and said eversosoftly perhaps you need to look at that a little closer
So I did. I looked at it quickly at first, like fingers testing a hot iron, afraid to get too close lest it turn out to mean exactly what it appeared and sear me forever.
Matthew 5:48…Jesus said it…Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
It sounds like a command. It surely does. And the fear grips my heart that He’s so very, very, very disappointed in me. So disgusted at my failings. Holding up the big Olympic Judge numbers:
But I read elsewhere that Jesus Himself corrects someone for calling Him “good” saying that only God is “good”…if He wouldn’t allow others to call Him “good” then is He truly telling me to be “perfect”? As in, expecting me to perform without mistake, frowning upon me when I falter, tsk-tsking me when I sprawl flat on my face?
So I studied that word…Perfect…yes…it does mean without blemish, spotless, faultless, pure. God Himself is surely Perfect. But in this verse, I found the word to be teleios which means “having reached the end,” “term,” “limit,” “complete,” “full,” and there the light began to dawn on my weary heart.
Perfection. As a process. Not as something I effect by a force of my will. But by His power alone, from glory to glory, as I am submitted to His will.
It would not be error, I believe, to think of this verse as “Be perfectED, even as your Father in heaven is already perfected”
It’s less of a command and more of a promise. It’s not expected, it’s anticipated.
Be perfected. Allow Him to do the work. Galations 3:3 shows Paul confirming this idea when he chastises the church of Galatia for trying to curry favor with God through works: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”
Uh. Why yes, as a matter of fact, I thought I was.
But I am slowly learning that slowly learning is part of being perfected. It’s in the not giving up. It’s in the staggering forward even when your knees are bloody from the falling. It’s in the knowing that from glory to glory is sometimes…really…gory.
But God is not afraid of gory. He who hung naked on a cross does not turn away from our wretched disfigurements. He binds the wounds and heals the hurts and gets His hands good and filthy in the process.
And oh. How I do love Him.