One Disappointing Verse

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“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

This verse has to be one of the most discouraging in the Bible. I never have been or ever will be perfectly obedient. 

Fortunately, the Hebrews’ writer explains that rigorous obedience to rules never makes anyone perfect (Hebrews 10:1). So how am I perfect, even as my Father is perfect?

By recognizing the source of perfection. “For by one offering, He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). Perfection is not what I do but who He’s made me to be. He traded His perfect Life for my imperfect one. It’s already accomplished! “God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong so that we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 The Message). 

I find this hard to believe because:

• It seems too good to be true and 

• He sees the completed me while I can only see the present me. 

Let’s say a friend gives me her favorite DVD to watch. She raves about the richness and meaning and how encouraging it is to see good triumph over evil. 

I’m intrigued and sit down to watch that evening. I sit through the first 30 minutes and find all of the main characters chased, beaten, and endangered. It’s depressing and discouraging, so I turn it off and decide to return it the following day. 

Did you love it?” she asks. “Didn’t it inspire you to pray more and trust God more fully when you saw all of the answered prayers?

I never saw any prayers answered,” I reply. “I got to the part where the heroine was locked in the underground vault and decided to turn it off.” 

 Shocked, she responds, “You didn’t even get to the best part. You have to watch it all the way through to feel its power. The struggle at the beginning serves to emphasize the miraculous ending.”

God has already watched our entire life pass and knows the outcome. When He looks at the “DVD case” of our lives, He sees the triumph of good over evil – the perfection of His Life realized entirely into our own. 

Right now, we can only see part of the story – the portion that we have lived to date. “But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away….For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12)

We haven’t become perfect yet – at least in our estimation (Philippians 3:12). But that is not the point. Let’s faithe the outcome and live as if the end can be seen.