Be perfect,therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48 (HCSB)
I can’t help but feel a certain sense of impossibility when considering the standard Jesus lays out for me. Thankfully, that impression is intentional.
Frequently, I fall into the trap of reaching for a “perfection” defined by the world or myself rather than the one set by God. As a Christian though, I have a responsibility to continually point toward the standard Jesus described in Matthew, even if I rebel against it within myself.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24 (HCSB)
I believe Jesus’ call to perfection in Matthew is one of the reasons our world has such a hard time with Christians in general, and God specifically. Reference the circumstances surrounding Tim Tebow and his insistence upon giving God the glory rather than hoarding cultural accolades to himself. The world took issue with Mr. Tebow not necessarily because of his faith, but because he so closely linked exceptional physical prowess with a confession of not being perfect himself, and by extension a confession of his need for a perfect savior. You see, the world desperately wants to communicate that we are all perfect, that we are all snowflakes without flaw. Scripture provides a different testimony. The world gets incredibly riled up by someone more capable and gifted than the rest of humanity acknowledging that they lack the capacity for personal perfection.
For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. – John 12:43 (HCSB)
In my fallen and sinful nature, I want to be perfect, but not for God. I want to be perfect for me. I am like the world in this regard, and seek accolades and glory for myself, or perhaps if I’m feeling generous, for those around me too. But that is not why God calls us toward excellence, toward perfection. This desire that we all have is also the reason we can empathize with the world when it attempts to worship the creation rather than the creator.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. – Romans 1:25 (HCSB)
The intentional standard God lays before us is not for our glory, but His. When we as Christians excel, when we break through seemingly impossible barriers, we should not give credit to ourselves, but to God. We credit God for his blessing and his mercy. He blessed us with the capacity for excellence. He is merciful to us because he knows we are not perfect and in our lack of perfection, deserve judgement.
I urge you to join me in confessing of the desire for personal glory, and caution you from heaping glory upon others. Give it all, the trophies, the laurels, the recognition, the fame, back to the God.
Praise God who made it possible for us to achieve perfection through His son Jesus, because it is only through Christ that will we be made spotless and without blemish.