"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Right in the middle of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus dropped that bomb. Did He really mean perfect? The Greek word translates: complete, full, wanting (or lacking) nothing. Another word for it is mature.
Jesus didn't make a suggestion, He gave a mandate. As we look around, even when we look in the mirror, we don't see perfection. Is it because we think perfection is impossible?
Who has decided perfection or maturity is impossible? Where did that thought come from? It obviously did not come from the One who told us to be perfect. Could it be a deception from the enemy?
We may think we're entering dangerous ground, embarking upon a monstrous ego trip. That's a possibility when we attempt to reason a thing out in our minds. But with that warning in mind, let's go a little deeper.
It isn't what we add to our character that makes us better or more perfect, it's what we delete. Galatians 5:19-21 shows us plenty that needs to be removed. Self is the problem. We have too much of it. Every form of self-seeking or self-assertion generates a force that separates us from God's perfection. It is His perfection we seek, not our own.
Seeking perfection can become self-seeking. Jesus said, "Be perfect," He didn't say, "Act perfect," or "Behave perfectly." When Jesus tells us to do something, He provides the way. We are after God's perfection; therefore, only God can impart it.
God works out our salvation (Philippians 2:12,13). He brings us to perfection through the utilization of His Word and prayer. He washes out what is not of Him, and develops what is of Him. (Ephesians 5:25-27).
"And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are." (John 17:11)
This prayer by Jesus reveals our entry to perfection. As soon as we give up ourselves, we have God, along with His perfection. As we stop desiring things for ourselves, God gives us everything we need to function in His perfect will.
We do not become perfect in ourselves, we become acceptable to do the perfect will of God. It is self-serving to ask God to bless our imperfect efforts in His behalf. It is God-serving to promise Him, "I will do nothing unless You tell me to do it."
That may seem too holy or super-spiritual to some. There is a fine line between understanding the intent of Scripture and implementing it in our lives. It is easy to become super-spiritual when we attempt to do something for God. It is better to bring ourselves before God as little children. God is not interested in our importance, even in His behalf.
Zaccheus was small in every way in the eyes of men (Luke 19:1-10). Short of stature and a tax-gatherer, he was unworthy of consideration by the proper, religious Pharisees.
But Zaccheus wanted to see this One who might be the Messiah, and our Lord saw his heart. He looked past the imperfect, insignificant flesh. Because Zaccheus was determined in his heart to see Jesus, he met Him face to face.
Something marvelous happened. Zaccheus was amazed to hear Jesus call his name. Jesus knew him, and He cared! The presence of Jesus turned darkness into light, imperfection into perfection! Zaccheus repented, and was saved. God's perfection manifested in Zaccheus' house, even though Zaccheus was not perfect.
If Zaccheus had strived for perfection before coming into Jesus' presence, he would have missed Jesus entirely. Instead he came as a little child, a child up a tree, and he received the opportunity to become one with Him. When Jesus is allowed to come in, He brings His perfection.
"Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." It is possible only if we forget about perfecting ourselves, and determine instead to become one with Him by bringing Him into our house.
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: In what way is God perfecting me?