God’s requirements are clear. He lays it out in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Very black and white. God expects nothing less than perfection from you. So, how are you doing?
This message from God can be confusing if you look back at who he chose to represent Him. Noah was a drunk, Abraham was a liar, Moses had a short temper, David was an adulterer, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Jesus, Paul persecuted Christians, and Thomas doubted. All of them were far from perfect, so what does Jesus mean by this commandment?
The Greek word that we translate as perfect can also be translated “mature” or “Finished.” Yet, even in those easier to reach terms, none of us could claim completion. Even if we asked our greatest allies, I doubt any could say truthfully that they had never found fault in us. Personally, I know that if you asked my family if I was perfect you might get a laugh.
The truth is that none of can claim perfection, nor could we ever hope to achieve it on our own. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says as much when it says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Because of the curse of sin, perfection on earth will always remain elusive.
During our entire life on earth, we will be unfinished products, many striving for perfection but never fully completing the task. Many of us can claim more maturity than we once had and we might even be closer to being a finished product in God’s eyes, but none of us can claim to be in a perfect state of being.
Yet, Jesus says “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How can that be? Is there any hope for us? Well, because God loved us enough to send His Son, yes, there is.
For this message we go to the book of Hebrews, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:5-12).
Because God loved us enough to send His Son to take upon Himself every sin of mankind, those who believe in His name are seen through Him and have taken on His righteousness as if it were their own. God cannot allow imperfection in His kingdom, so He provided us a way to be seen as perfect. “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
Because of Christ, we now have hope because we are seen through His prism and our sins are as far from us as the East is from the West. When God looks at us He now sees His Son, radiant and gleaming of purity and perfection.
That’s not to say that we should stop making perfection our goal. No, the goal hasn’t changed because it continues to prepare us for the things to come. Each day we should continue to strive for perfection, not based on works but based on gratitude for all that God has done to prepare us for everlasting life.
It should be faith that guides us and our love for God should be what keeps us on the narrow path. Even as the devil whispers in our ears his many lies, we should go forth in confidence for all that God has done to see us as His own and worthy of His kingdom.
We have attained perfection in God’s eyes, not on our own merit but because He couldn’t bear to see us lost to sin. In His Son we have found our salvation. In His perfection we have been given the right to eternal life. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son so that we might take on His righteousness. Your love is more than we could fathom, and your grace is beyond measure. Thank you for all you have done to save us. Amen.