I’m expecting an email today in response to this post from one of you out there, an email that will challenge me to think more deeply about this subject before I dive in to teach it in a few days. That said, here goes…
Matthew 5:48 – Do you best because God knows you can’t be perfect. Give your best effort even to follow God’s will, even if it’s only an 85% effort because God knows what kind of day you are having.
That was from the New Living Busy And Trying To Make It Through The Day translation.
The Bible I normally use states it this way, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Early in that chapter, in the first translation I used, it says stuff like “Blessed are the middle class because they are the working class and they will be able to put food on their table” and “Blessed are those who attend church on Sunday and watch sitcoms the rest of the week for they will inherit the sofa” and “Blessed are those who avoid persecution, who avoid not-fitting-in and who avoid ever knowing a poor, hungry, homeless person for they can focus on their own wants.” It’s an interesting read.
If I don’t strive for perfection, what should I strive for? 95%? 80%? 70%? Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect. Perfection in what you might ask? Good question! Is it our actions? Our thoughts? Honestly, this is tough for me to put into words what is in my head but I’ll try anyway. I think (that should be a big caveat right there) it means we should be perfect in our love for God and for His desire for us. Does that include actions? YES! Does that include our thoughts? YES! John 14:15 says something to the affect of “If you love me you will OBEY my command.” What is it that we obey? Jesus teaches us to love, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give water to the thirsty. He teaches us to love each other. In fact Jesus tells us that if we truly love him, we will love each other. Now, what will you do for a person you love? Maybe a better question is what will you not do for a person you love? I offer that if we love people the way Jesus loves us and if we obey His commands we are called to action, action that is remarkably similar to what Jesus did while walking the earth. AND, if I love others and obey Jesus’ commands won’t I avoid other actions and thoughts that stop me from being perfect as God is perfect?
The problem is, I don’t do all that. I don’t obey Jesus’ commands all the time and God knows that. The beauty of God’s love is that He gave His son, His PERFECT son as a sacrifice for me so that my imperfections of yesterday would be covered by His blood and I start today fresh…new…clean…and ready to strive for perfection again.
For your parents out there, here’s a question. What do you tell your children is acceptable and, whatever acceptable is, when they fall below that do you cane them, beat them, lock them in a closet or quit loving them? Or, do you let them start over, start fresh and keep loving them and trying to give them all they need to meet what you consider acceptable?
Achieving perfection isn’t about getting a gold star because of something we did, achieving perfection is all about loving God, giving Him our heart and obeying His commands because our Father loves us so completely, fully and unconditionally.
Grace and peace to you.