“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” – Matthew 5:48.
While the fact that nobody’s perfect is an oft-used statement, people are constantly seeking perfection. Too often, we measure our success against unrealistic standards and expect others to do the same. But who could live up to the ideal of perfection? Yet there is that troubling Bible verse: “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Most people probably read those words and scratch their heads. How can we be perfect as God is when we can’t even reach perfection on a human level?
Fortunately, there are some critical differences in perfection between the world and God. Worldly perfection is mainly focused on our ability to conform to a set of standards that drive our self-worth. In this model, our worth stems from what we do and how well we do it. God doesn’t define perfection in the same way we do. He knows that we are human. He knows we are frail. He knows we are on a journey, in progress, not yet reaching the final goal, and He loves us just as we are.
Yes, God does command us to be perfect. But He doesn’t expect us to be perfect in the sense that we never sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” He knows we sin and remedied that through the priesthood of Jesus: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous”
No matter how hard we try, we sin constantly and are far from perfect. We sin more than we probably realize. We commit sins of commission—doing that which we shouldn’t, and sins of omission—not doing that which we should. God sees and knows our shortcomings. That is why, in daily life, we need His grace and His unconditional love. Jesus’ righteousness is credited to us, so when God looks at us, He sees us as perfect.
God loves completely. Perfectly. Jesus taught us to love everyone, regardless of faith, nationality, or personality. Will we ever achieve loving perfectly like our heavenly Father loves? Not in this life. But this is our goal, and we are to pursue it wholeheartedly. Perfect love is a standard impossible for us to attain by our efforts. But what is impossible for man becomes possible for those who give their lives to Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
When I accept my imperfection, understand my inability, and receive God’s grace, I can love others in a way that is characteristic of our heavenly Father.
And that is what He expects from each of us.
- What does it mean to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect?
- How can you be better at loving others this week?