Encouragement for your daily walk with God
One of my devotional readings this morning was in Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount. I had to stop for a moment when I read the words, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” [Matthew 5:48]. I don’t know what you think about those words, but my heart skipped a beat or two. “Be perfect,” really? You’ve got to be kidding!
Is there a little wiggle room in perfection for imperfection? Just a little? Not according to my computer’s dictionary. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, as you read one of its definitions:
• free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless:
There you have it. Perhaps now you can understand my trepidation. Jesus didn’t say, “Try to be perfect,” or “Do your best to be perfect.” No, He said, emphatically, “Be perfect.” But before we jump on the bandwagon of hopelessness and fear, we’ve got to consider a couple of things.
First, don’t buy into the concept that as a Christ follower, you have to cinch up your belt a notch or two, try harder, or do more to earn your perfection!
Secondly, the Lord’s jaw-dropping statement in verse 48, comes at the end of a reminder that those listening to Him put their confidence in the Law. “You have heard it said…” is a way of saying, “The Law teaches…” And, therein lies the rub. Trying to “perform” in order to be perfect in the Law leads to failure. The apostle Paul said it this way, “Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law” [Galatians 3:11].
The simple truth of the matter is that, on our own, we can't be perfect, but in Jesus, we can! In reference to the Law, Jesus said to them, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” [Matthew 5:17].
So take a deep breath, exhale, then rest in the glorious truth that you are perfect…not through your efforts, but through your identity with Christ! If you’re trying to be perfect by the keeping of the Law, you’ll never get there. The Law merely leads to death [2 Corinthians 3:6]. Real life—the perfection we long for— is in the Son.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17