more on being perfect

I’ve been thinking more about being perfect.  This morning I read in Matthew 5:48, “But you are to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (NLT) Every time I read that verse I feel something like an inner cringe happen. I know I’m not perfect, and anyone that halfway knows me has figured that out as well!

Yet, God tells us to be perfect.

I’ve been pondering this for several days and looking up a few scriptures and thinking about them as well, and this is what I’ve come up with. The adversary, the enemy of our soul, trips us up. He gets us thinking about the wrong kind of perfection. Being good enough. Performing.  He tricks us into believing we have to earn acceptance and love. If we aren’t good enough, we aren’t loved. We’re not in the club. That is the lie of religion. The great lie of Satan. The Pharisees and Sadduccees were masters at propagating that lie.

I think that there is a vast difference between perfectionism and being perfect. Perfectionism is rooted in a wrong mindset, a lie; the mindset of the Sadduccees and Pharisees. If I don’t perform just right, I’ll be rejected, shunned, punished. Fear is probably the biggest cause of perfectionism. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of failing. Fear of being judged. Fear of being rejected. Fear is tormenting. It’s overwhelming. It can be paralyzing.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (ESV)

So often we read the “be perfect” scripture – but we don’t read it in context. In Matthew 5:43-47, Jesus is talking about loving our enemies. Verses 46-48 say, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (ESV)

We are to love without fear. That is perfect!

1 John 2:1-6 explains it so beautifully. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (ESV)

So, right there, if we sin (aren’t perfect) Jesus has taken care of that for us. As we grow in knowing Him, we will become more like him. We will live like him, talk like him, love like him.

It isn’t about being perfect so we will win people’s approval and avoid their rejection. It isn’t about being perfect so that we can win God’s favor and avoid punishment. It is about learning to love God and others without fear, and that is perfection. Loving well is what it’s about. When Jesus summed up the greatest commandment he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I long to be that kind of perfect!

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4 Responses to “more on being perfect”

  1. Wanda Says:

    I use to have a friend who gave me the nickname, Poppins, as in Mary Poppins, because he said I was “practically, perfect in every way.” Since he and his wife were close neighbors he saw me at some of my worst moments, like the time I yelled at my kids (and his!) to stop fighting and play fair. We loved our neighbors and felt loved by them. When you shared that being perfect is “about learning to love God and others without fear” I got “the shivers” because it is so true. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about such love! thankyou!!

  2. Sheree Says:

    What great insight, Kris! I’ve read that Scripture so many times with my perfectionist tendencies and felt the “inner cringe” you talk about. Instead of worrying about performing perfectly, I can get excited about loving perfectly!

  3. Kathleen Schaffer Says:

    Love this Kris – so hard to grasp…so wonderful when i do…even just a little bit. I want to be that kind of perfect too!

  4. angie williams Says:

    Being loved by Him without fear and “loving without fear”.
    Oh, there is no greater joy! The desire of my heart and quest of my life.
    “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

    i love this. Thank you, thank you Kris

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