“I’m not perfect.”
This is a line often used when we disappoint others, lose our temper, or are caught in an embarrassing situation. “I’m not perfect” has been echoed by philandering husbands, dishonest politicians, and athletes caught cheating.
I’ve talked to Christians who are failing in their faithfulness to Christ, shrug their shoulders and repeat the refrain, “I’m not perfect.”
Our word of the week is “perfect”
We use the word “perfect” to mean sinless. Without fault or flaw. The Bible, however, gives us a different point of view.
The English word is used over 30 times in the New Testament. However, the Greek word in its verb, adverb and adjective form is used 50 times. It means, “finished, complete, brought to its end, or full age.” When used of people it means to be “fully grown or mature.” It can be of physical growth, but is also used of our spiritual growth in Christ.
Here are three ways in which Christians should endeavor to be “perfect.”
(1) Perfect Love.
In His mountain message, Jesus challenged his follower to rise above the traditional attitudes of the world and even the religious leaders. In regard to those who make life difficult for us he says to love those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who persecute you. (Matt 5:43-47)
As an example, Jesus says God provides for those who are evil as well as the godly. The air we breathe, the sunshine, and the rain is given by God to both good and bad people.
Then He concluded by exhorting, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (V. 48)
Perfect? Like God? Impossible! No, Jesus means complete in your love. Mature in your attitude toward your enemies.
(2) Perfect Faith.
For centuries there has been a debate between faith and works. Are we saved by faith? Or by works?
The Bible forever settles this issue in James 2:14-26. Using various examples, including the patriarch Abraham, James concludes that “faith is made perfect by works.”
Abraham was a man of faith. He believed God. But his works demonstrated his faith. He left his homeland. He became a pilgrim in the land of promise. He was even willing to offer his son, Isaac, when instructed by God. His faith was exercising itself through obedience.
God calls on us to believe. To nurture our faith. Grow in faith. And develop a perfect or mature faith in Him and His Word.
(3) Perfect Spiritual Growth.
The Bible says that Christians are to grow in “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)
Perfect? How? No one’s perfect, right?
This word is better translated “mature” in other versions. The Bible compares a new Christian to a “babe” in Christ. But we are not to remain spiritual infants! We are to grow up! Get stronger! Become mature!
Unbiased and honest self-examination is difficult, but possible. I believe that most of us know in our heart of hearts our spiritual strengths and weaknesses. Here are four questions to consider about your spiritual growth?
Is your knowledge of the Word growing?
Is your relationship with God getting stronger?
Is your spiritual discernment maturing?
Is your character improving to be more like Christ?
Christian maturity is an issue of discipleship. It is a process, not an event. It takes time. Effort. Energy. It doesn’t happen over night. And you are the one who must do it. As an old Irish proverb put it, “You need to do your own growing, no matter how tall you grandfather was.”
Can any of us reach sinless perfection? No! But God desires that we grow to “spiritual maturity.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman