Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This word “perfect” means, complete or coming into maturity.
I believe that in this life, we can attain to this by God’s grace. Otherwise Jesus would have never commanded us to do it. Jesus NEVER asks us to do anything that He has not given us the power and grace to accomplish.
But will I ever be wholly perfect in this life, defined by Webster? Perfect: Having no mistakes or flaws, completely correct or accurate. Being entirely without fault or defect.
I don’t think so. Jesus was the only one that has ever done that…lived perfectly.
So then why is it that within our heart of hearts, we are trying to be perfect (defined by Webster) before God? Why would I strive for something that’s not possible to attain. We may feel that at times we can maybe, possibly get close to perfect, only to fall short by noon! And I am not talking in a major way! To fall short in ANY way, be it major or minor…is to not be perfect, again and again and again.
I have coached recreational baseball and basketball for a number of years now. Coaching kid’s sports is no picnic, let me tell you. But it teaches valuable lessons if hearts are open. As a coach, you can fall into the temptation to expect kids to play perfectly…all the time. A young player may strike out in baseball and walk back to the dugout crying because they want to hit the ball perfect every time. It’s not going to happen. They put tremendous pressure on themselves for something they will never do…hit the ball EVERY TIME. I try to tell the players that even in the Majors, the good hitters only hit the ball a third of the time. It’s the same with us on a daily basis. Our hearts want to hit a (spiritual) homerun every day and when it doesn’t happen by breakfast, we immediately beat ourselves up as we head back to the dugout and sulk on the bench.
We do not walk in perfect love every day. That alone is humbling. We do not have a perfect prayer life. We do not have a perfect thought life. We do not have a perfect response in every situation that we face. We are not mistake free and flawless. We are not completely correct or accurate. We are not entirely without fault or defect. Read about the “heroes” of the faith again in Hebrews 11. Read about Moses the murderer, Jacob the deceiver, Joseph the proud, Rahab the harlot, Gideon the fearful, Samson the weak, David the adulterer and you will realize that God deeply loves His imperfect ones.
So what do we do? Do we do whatever we want and God will say, “Oh well, he/she is not perfect!”. Certainly not. This is not God’s heart. But what we do first is take a deep breath and realize that I am an imperfect person living in an imperfect world. Therefore…you WILL make mistakes. You will fall short. You will sin.
So then what do we do? We live to please God in every area of our lives. There is a vast difference between living perfect and living to please God. Jesus said it so beautifully in John 8:29, “”And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”
Here’s the truth that will awaken your heart. You see, trying to live perfect is fear-based. We may not admit it but we can be subtly afraid that if we don’t act right, think right and do right perfectly that God will get mad at us and punish us and my life will not turn out like I had hoped or at best He will put us on some sort of spiritual probation to watch and see if we ever do that again and that will be it for us! And this brings tremendous shame and reveals doubts of God’s true feelings for us. We lean more towards the fact that He is continually disappointed with us than His tremendous love for us. We tend to think that because we are surprised by our sin and weaknesses that God is! And He is not.
However, to live to please God is love-based. It’s a heart that desires and strives for holiness because it pleases Him. It’s a heart that desires to be pure and clean before Him, because we love Him and we know this brings Him pleasure. This is what the Bible means to be perfect. It’s to grow in the things of God. To grow and mature in our love for God and others. The more that we tap into His love, the greater the desire to please Him will follow. To know His love is to know what pleases Him. My sin does not please Him…of course not. But my heart to WANT to live pure and holy and the desire to live that out every day pleases Him deeply.
Live to please Him. Live to love Him. Live to know Him. Mature in the things of God. Mature in your love for God and others. This is being perfect as the Bible defines it. Live to please the Lord and all that you say and do…this pleases His heart more than you will never know. You are loved…because you are His!
-Ryan Bruss, Director