Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Aww, God, really? That's the feeling I get almost every time I come across this scripture. For this self-described seeker of perfection, this verse sets the bar impossibly high....doesn't it?
How on earth can I be perfect like God? Say it ain't so....
I grew up in a staunch Presbyterian church. My behind was in that hard, uncomfortable pew every Sunday. I heard the minister's voice from the pulpit, on high, echoing throughout the stone Gothic cathedral. I was afraid, yet drawn at the same time.
In Sunday school, I learned the Ten Commandments (in the King James version). It was a mighty list of "Thou shalt not's" that I took quite seriously. I loved the pictures of Jesus bidding the little children to come to Him, but God?? I admit I was a bit intimidated, even afraid, of Him. I knew not to mess with God, yet, deep inside I had a desire to please Him....to follow His commands.
I wanted to be one of those spoken about in Proverbs 2:20-21 (AMP)
So you will walk in the way of good men [that is, those of personal integrity, moral courage and honorable character], and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright [those who are in right standing with God] will live in the land and those [of integrity] who are blameless [in God's sight] will remain in it....
I wanted to remain in the Land of God's Good Graces!
This isn't a scientific study, but I have noticed that the people I know who struggle the most with "perfectionism", who think they are far from perfect, continually strive to be perfect, and chide themselves way too much when they mess up, are actually some of the most upright people I know.
The ones who think they always fall short of the mark are the ones, to me, who are like the ones found in the Proverb's verse: they have personal integrity, moral courage, and honorable character. They are some of the most "upright and blameless" people I know.....yet they struggle so, and think they are so far from perfect and it literally pains them.
I wonder....could it be....that these seekers of perfection really DO love God a bit more than the rest of the world??
Here's the good and bad news as I see it:
GOOD: I think a lot of perfectionists actually are people after God's own heart. They love His precepts. Many meditate upon them day and night. They strive to walk upright lives before the Lord and are considered "good people" in the sight of others. I believe they genuinely want to please God and walk in His ways. On a worldly perfection scale of 1-10, they'd be hovering over a solid 9.
BAD: "Pride" gets in the way and we think we can achieve this perfection on our own and we care way too much about what others think. "Fear" plays a role in us, in that we think God will be disappointed in us and we will end up out of His good graces. We fear God's wrath.
Perhaps the worst news of all is that the enemy KNOWS that this is our Achilles heel and he goes after it with a vengeance. He shouts things like, "See, you fell short again. You're not good enough. You'll NEVER be good enough. God's disappointed in you and He's going to strike you down. You messed up again. You're not perfect enough....."
I believe the enemy uses our good intentions and love of the Lord to bring us down. He knows that being blameless in God's sight actually matters to us. And so....he goes after the jugular. And he's relentless.
So where do we go from here? Back to the Truth. We hold up the enemy's lies to it (the Truth), and if his words (which ARE lies) don't match up with the Truth, we need to, have to, kick the enemy to the curb. It also helps to ask people close to us (who know we struggle) to remind us that we don't have to be perfect. Ahhh....breathe.
As for "Be perfect as the Father is perfect" we know that: