I’m Not Perfect
“But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Matthew 5:48 (NLT)
I noticed this quote on a fridge magnet and actually laughed out loud: “I’m not perfect but I’m so close it scares me!” The scripture above is a quote from Jesus himself during the Sermon on the Mount where he spends three chapters teaching his disciples about many things. But does this quote from Jesus really have anything to do with us—none of us can remotely connect ourselves with perfection! So, can we as humans actually be perfect? At face value Jesus’ words seem to be saying “Yes we can.” But how is this possible?
One answer to that question lies in the Greek word translated ‘perfect’ in this and other scriptures. That word is ‘Teleios’—it signifies “something that has reached its fullness or completeness.” For example, a student who has reached a mature knowledge of his subject is ‘teleios,’ as opposed to a learner who is just beginning and who has as yet no grasp of things. The Greek idea of perfection is functional. Something is perfect if it fully realises the purpose for which it was planned, and designed, and made. It has come to perfection for that specific purpose. For example, whenever a potter makes a vessel he will decide ahead of time what this particular pot or dish will be used for and he will design it for that purpose and when it comes out of the kiln it is ‘teleios’—perfected for a specific purpose! So then Christians will be ‘teleois’—perfect—if they fulfil the purpose for which they were created by the Father.
So, why was man created? According to God man was brought into being to become like him. Paul urges us to do so in Ephesians 4:13 (NKJV)… “…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [teleois] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” William Barclay comments; “It is when a man reproduces in his life the unwearied, forgiving, sacrificial benevolence of God that he becomes like God and is therefore perfect in the NT sense of the word.” In other words, the man who cares most for people is the most perfect man—he’s complete! Again Paul tells the church at Colosse that Epaphras is praying for you that you might “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12 NKJV).
It’s interesting that Dr. Weymouth translates Matthew 5:48 this way, “You however are to be complete in goodness, as your Heavenly Father is complete.”
Father of all, as your new creation, help us to grow up into Christ and become complete by reflecting him in all goodness, truth, and love, to the glory of your name.
Study by Cliff Neill
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
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