Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
It’s so easy to fall into a trap of thinking that we need to be “perfect.”
We socially think of being “perfect” in a few ways:
1. Physically perfect
This is something we are bombarded with on a daily basis, especially if we pay attention to any sort of entertainment. The physical beauty. The perfect face, ideal skin tone, the perfectly sculpted abs, etc. There are creams, clothes, gadgets, and all sorts of videos and programs for you to purchase to make yourself ‘perfect.’ (For fun, read 1 Timothy 4, pay attention to verses 7 and 8.)
2. Socially perfect
This comes in as being ‘cool.’ Always having the right thing to say at the right time to the right people. Being the life of the party, the guy or girl who is always invited, never has a moment of being left out. To be desired by friends and to be popular, to be so ‘cool,’ that everyone wants to be you, because you are socially ‘perfect.’ (We are not to desire the favor of man, but of God, in so doing we win both Proverbs 3:3-4)
3. Intellectually perfect
This is all about being smarter than Einstein. To pursue knowledge and exercising the brain to the point where your intelligence is superior, to achieving perfection in smarts. Knowledge is a great thing to have, learning is important, (Proverbs 1:22, 10:14), but lording it over others is childish.
4. Spiritually perfect
This last one is perceived two ways. One, that we are ‘perfect’, we don’t sin, we never make a mistake, never offend, and make sure that we are Godly by doing ‘good works.’ In doing we are ‘perfect.’ This is typically how the church sees being ‘perfect.’ That an outward appearance of being good, doing good, abhorring anything that appears to be evil, not hanging out with the wrong crowd, etc. The second is being perfect as God is perfect.
The misconception comes from us understanding the word ‘perfect.’
First, we quote the scripture out of context. Meaning, we throw it around because it sounds good without quoting or understanding the 47 verses before it. (Matthew 5:1-47)
Perfect in Matthew 5:48 is the Greek word: τέλειος – Teleios (tel’-i-os) which is defined as perfect, (a) complete in all its parts, (b) full grown, of full age, (c) specially of the completeness of Christian character.
Further, the word has a meaning of ‘consummated goal’ and ‘mature.’ The root of the word, Tel, means reaching the end. *
*Strong’s Concordance 5046
If you read the entire chapter of Matthew 5, you get a sense and weight of what it means to be spiritually mature.
A spiritually mature person will mourn, be meek, be merciful, be pure in heart, be peacemakers, hunger and thirst for righteousness, poor in spirit, be persecuted, rejoice in persecution, will not hide their faith before others, not call others fools, or be angry with others, settle disagreements out of court, not lustfully look at men and women, will consider others before themselves, will keep their word, love their enemies, bless those who persecute them, love those who hate them, greet people who are not part of your tribe or inner circle, etc. There’s 47 verses that go into good detail about what maturity looks like, or spiritual perfection.
This is a long list for anyone to read and realize that they’ve already failed in at least one of these areas, if not daily.
It’s impossible to be ‘perfect’ in the way that we understand it as society dictates.
It’s also readily realized that no one is ‘perfect’ spiritually, however, we are drawn to be mature in spirit as God is mature.
Reading today: Matthew Chapter 5:1-48