Tuesday, February 17, 2015

PERFECTION

Written by Allison Sylvester-Conliffe

Jesus admonishes us that we should be perfect!

Matt 5:48Therefore, be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Have we ever stopped to consider what God means when He calls us, His followers, to be perfect?  Some may think that God expects us to do everything in the right way always – making sure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed - never giving way to making a mistake – and by doing so, that would be God’s ideal example of walking in perfection.

Others may think that a perfect person has to be knowledgeable in all things and appear to all as intelligent. Oh really?  Remembering that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts … let us look a bit closer of God’s idea of perfection.

God is Love and God’s love is perfect, complete and unconditional.

A PERFECT EXAMPLE
1 John 4:16-17 says, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected in this, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”

God wants His creation to be as an extension of Himself. In other words, He has also called us to love completely and unconditionally, so that we would appear perfect in His eyes.  He has sent Jesus, His Son, to show us how to love like He does.  We cannot achieve this on our own.  Jesus came to show mankind how to live with one another in harmony and how to become one as the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One.  In other words, God wants His people to be of one heart, one mind and one spirit as we mirror Him in our interactions.

We are familiar with the verses quoted below from 1 Corinthians 13. Let us with honesty examine our own attitudes and behaviour against the Word of God, and see how we line up with God's idea of perfection. 

HOW'S MY ATTITUDE?
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 
  2.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 
  3.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned but have not love, it profits me nothing. 
  4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 
  5. does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 
  6. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 
  7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
  8. Love never fails.  
  9. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 
  10. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 
  11. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 
  12. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 
  13. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
These verses speak clearly of God’s meaning of perfection and we must mirror God’s Word if we desire to make it to His Heaven.  There is no compromise in this regard because God commands us to love.

John 13:34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

AM I FOOLING MYSELF?
However, we have to be mindful of what I choose to call, “false perfection”. 
If we see ourselves as the epitome of perfection, and see everyone else as below that bar, the chances are that we will also find ourselves walking on the thin line of pride and thereby become displeasing to God! We could be duped into thinking that because we are proficient in what we do, whether professionally or in ministry, that we have attained to a high level of “perfection” and may even gloat on the fact that we are a cut above the rest.

This kind of thinking could trap us into promoting ourselves to an exalted position, and into believing that we are incapable of making a mistake. If we actually made a mistake or falter in some way, we would stand amazed, pondering the fact that a mistake actually occurred at our hand.  This kind of thinking borders on pride – a sin that God abhors and is the first one listed among the six things that He hates.  (See Proverbs Chapter 6).

To guard against this spirit of pride, God warns us in His Word to be careful not to think too highly of ourselves.  We must look, at all times, for the goodness in others rather than seeing their faults and making it our business to point them out.  When did Jesus point fingers at His disciples when they failed? We are followers of Jesus aren’t we?  His way is the Perfection that we all have to attain to.  What we often label as perfection is really prideful false perfection.

Phil 2:3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Rom 12:3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

There is a saying that goes like this… “Imperfection is intolerant of Imperfection”.  This is a loaded statement which, when expanded, says that we display our own imperfection when we have low tolerance for other people's short-comings … according to what we bench mark as perfection. 

If God would judge iniquity, who would stand??  Perfection … which is God Himself … is restorative.  You may ask, what does that mean?

TRUE PERFECTION RESTORES
As I mentioned before, God, as Perfection, is Restorative.  God's perfection requires patience, tolerance and kindness. He never seeks to condemn mankind as we continue to walk in our folly.  When the Apostle Peter made mistakes Jesus showed Him the more excellent way… and He did it in love. 

If our motive for pointing out mistakes is void of love and void of the intention to restore to wholeness, then we are walking in imperfection. If our motive in pointing out the short comings of others is to put down another in order to exalt one-self, then we are imperfect in God’s eyes.  God always seeks to encourage the saints and does not go about flaunting Himself in His Perfection.  Rather, He takes the lowly place and works with His people in love to bring us all to the level we ought to be in Him.  In other words God’s love toward us is to bring restoration so that we could be perfect as He is perfect.

How do we measure up to His mark of perfection?  Let us go forth and work out our salvation before it is too late.

Blessings to all.

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