Today's Word of Encouragement
Thursday, June 25, 2020
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Salvador Dali, the famous Spanish Surrealist artist, quipped, “Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.” On the other hand, Vince Lombardi, the great football coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Some Christians think the same way about the Sermon on the Mount - the teachings of Jesus are impossible to attain. The best we can do is to pursue it and hope for the best.
In both painting and football, the participant cannot achieve success by focusing in on a single detail - he must be able to see the whole picture, he must play the entire game. To focus in on one or two principles of the Sermon (anger, love, lust, etc.) is to miss the point. But that’s what we do, mainly because we have a problem in that area and we want to hear what Jesus said about it. But to ‘cherry pick’ the topics covered in the Sermon on the Mount is to miss seeing the whole picture. We have to take the Sermon in its entirety.
As He concluded this section of the Sermon, Jesus said, Therefore (a conjunction that transitions the argument into a conclusion), you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. In other words, Jesus said, “I’ve said all of that to say this . . .” or “This is My point in saying all of this . . . .”
To be ‘perfect’ does not mean to be without flaws or weaknesses or imperfections. The word teleioi means ‘the end of the matter’, ‘the goal’, or ‘the limit’. In other words, Jesus said, “This is the goal I have set before you; this is the absolute standard of God for Kingdom life.” It has to do with wholeness or maturity, for relative ‘perfection’ as of adults compared with children.
Once a person recognizes and accepts his/her sinfulness and spiritual depravity (5:3), grieves over that condition with a godly sorrow that leads to repentance (5:4), humbles him/herself before God in complete submission to His authority (5:5), and is saved or ‘born again’ (5:6), the process of ‘sanctification’ begins (5:7 - 7:27).
To be sanctified is to be made holy. It is positional and processional, judicial and experiential. At the point of salvation, God declares a person holy, sanctified, justified. That’s positional and judicial. Also at the point of salvation the Holy Spirit begins the work of bringing the Christian to spiritual maturity; He begins to sanctify the person in the flesh, to ‘perfect’ or to make the person spiritually whole. That’s processional and experiential.
At this point in the Sermon, Jesus did not say you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect, in order to shock or demoralize us. No. He interjected this statement to spur us on to ‘perfection’, to wholeness. He said this so we would not give up because it is difficult, but to encourage us to move us on to spiritual maturity because it is attainable. That’s the goal, the end of the matter.
“Father, thank You that You do not give up on me, that You continue to encourage me to press on to spiritual maturity, that You have set a goal for me that I can live the rest of my life here with direction and purpose. I am humbled that You continue to work in me to perfect Your standards of Kingdom life, and that one day I will be whole and complete as You are holy. Amen.”