Matthew 5:48 ESV
Genesis 17:1 ESV
Romans 3:10-18 ESV
John 3:16-18 ESV
Titus 3:4-7 ESV
When I read this scripture I really started praying seriously about what to write. I always ask what God wants. For this lesson I thought about how ideas come to me. Sometimes I really do chase a rabbit down a rabbit hole. Sometimes I get stuck.
I can also really mess things up. I really really don’t do it on purpose. It’s just a natural talent I have.
You can ask my kids…they know.
For example, my daughter is an exacting kind of person. She is a Senior Project Manager for a very large international corporation. She is the one who keeps her teams on track.
Even when she was small, she would keep me on track.
She would help me.
The thing about me is that I love to chase rabbits (in my head). That’s not at all unusual for creative types. We love to create and if we get a great idea we chase it!
The thing is sometimes I get in trouble by leaving messes around when I go off chasing an idea. The point is I am really really far from perfect.
In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now you see the problem.
I was taught growing up that there really isn’t anything God won’t forgive. I was told that God’s love for everyone is far reaching.
So what did Jesus mean when He said we need to be perfect?
And…and what does it mean in Genesis 17:1, where it says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.”
We know the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:10-18, “as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Noah’s to the point about man’s condition one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Okay, since Paul’s description of man is straight forward and to the point about man’s condition, we know that man is totally not righteous.
So what did Paul mean by be perfect?
Looking at the Greek in that verse we find the Greek word for ‘perfect’ is teleioi which means perfect, BUT it can also mean mature or complete.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
As is often the case, modern usage of a word is often different than how it was used in the 1st Century.
Jesus was saying we need to be mature and complete. We need to be the kind of person other people can count on and trust.
The road to that mature life starts with Jesus. Since we’ve established God doesn’t expect us to do it on our own we know God has a plan.
In John 3:16-18 we learn, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
God sent His Son so we will not be condemned. We found our completeness and maturity in Jesus. When we trust God, we can rely on the Spirit of God to be our guide in life. Through the Spirit, God shows us the way to maturity and completeness in God.
In addition to that, in Titus 3:4-7 we learn, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Whew! So, I’m in the clear. I don’t have to work out my righteousness. The Spirit IS my guide. I’m grateful to know that I do not need to be perfect on my own. My perfection comes from God.
AND…and furthermore, as far as my habit of chasing rabbits (ideas) in my head goes, that could very well be the Spirit’s way of teaching me something new!
Spiritual Practice: The Spirit
Think about how the Holy Spirit speaks to you. Spend a few minutes sitting with God.
In God, Deborah