Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The term perfection is defined by Webster as the state of being perfect; being entirely without fault or defect, corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept, lacking in no essential detail.
The term imperfection is the state of being faulty or incomplete. It is defined as the opposite of perfection, not perfect; faulty or incomplete. It is something which is flawed, defective, inferior, or substandard.
Imperfection is found almost everywhere we look. What in our world is without fault, flawless, or blameless? It seems that these days even the most noble among us have a tiny bit of tarnish somewhere. But what about perfection, where can it be found? Many things that we think, or hope might be perfect are proven not to be in the end. Even the magnificent statue of David by Michelangelo was sculpted from flawed marble.
Search as we might there is only One who claims to be perfect and is affirmed to be just that, the Father God!
Matthew 5:48 Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The Greek term translated perfect is teleios. It comes from the Greek word telos, goal, purpose, end. The Greek term teleios can be used in an absolute sense. The Heavenly Father’s perfection is absolute. He has no faults, weaknesses, or shortcomings. He is not flawed or defective in any way.
The Father’s perfection never changes. He has always been and will always be perfect, absolutely perfect. People can only be relatively perfect, hence mature.
In Matthew 5, the Lord Jesus Christ is setting the bar for each of us. We are to strive to be perfect in our righteousness, moral integrity. We know of course we can never be perfect as the Father is. But that is our goal, to strive after for perfection and this presents a bit of a conundrum. But it is easily resolved. Of course, the Father knows that we are fallen our creatures and will never be perfect in our righteousness. He accepts us the way we are. But He still sets high standards. Paul explains.
Philippians 3:12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
Paul was all in, and totally devoted to the pursuit of the perfection to be found in Christ. He truly wanted to be perfect. Like Paul, many of us are determined to be the best and do our best. Rather than becoming discouraged with our inability to achieve perfection, we can accept it as a process of growing to maturity. Over time we will become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that we as fallen creatures will never make it in this life.
James 1:4 When your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
The Greek term teleios has a relative sense and can be readily translated mature, finished, complete. It does not mean without flaw or error but indicates maturity and completeness. It implies a process.
Being perfect, in this sense, is not the opposite of being imperfect. Rather, being perfect is the opposite of being incomplete.
James offers a sneak peek for each child of the King regarding how we become everything the Father desires for us. He gives us a glimpse of how we become equipped for the tasks that He has for us.
The Greek word translated complete, is holokleros, needing nothing, entire, complete in every part. It underscores the incremental character of the process. When the process is complete, we are fully formed and lacking in nothing. The Greek term translated lacking is leipo. It means to fail, lack, be wanting, to be deficient. When we are mature and complete, we have everything we need.
Picture a caterpillar being transformed into a moth in its cocoon. It only emerges when all the parts are fully formed.
REFLECT & PRAY
When the Father sees human imperfection, He offers love, forgiveness, and redemption.
Father how I long to finally be mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. Please make it so.
Perfectionism is a dangerous thing. A tried and true way of breaking the cycle of perfectionism, is to take on a task which can never be done perfectly. One such task is parenting. Perhaps moms more than dads are very much aware that not only are their children imperfect, but their children’s friends are even more imperfect. They both tend to leave a trail of sorts wherever they go within a home. Many moms take on the responsibility of cleaning up their mess. And time and time again just as everything is back in order, the children return.
There are perils associated with perfectionism. Striving for an unattainable goal is difficult for anyone, but it is particularly frustrating for people who are inclined to be perfectionistic.
It is one thing to strive to be perfect and righteous. It is quite different, to be obsessed with perfection itself. The perfectionist is continually striving to perfect and clean up their environment and people in their lives. Even minor variances, minor mistakes, “imperfections” can be very unsettling.
The Father is not constantly “on the backs” of people who are less than perfect. If He were, we would have little time left for anything else. In fact, He gives us a great deal of “space” and is patient with us, allowing us to correct our own mistakes before He steps in to do so (Constable).
Is there a proper kind of obsession involving perfection for the children of the King? Yes. We should be focused on the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ and fix our eyes on Him.
1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
Peace and contentment are not realized when everything is perfect. Because perfection will never happen this side of heaven. Rather, peace and contentment flow when we decide to look beyond imperfections.