Links Daily Devotional

Links Daily Devotional editor Jeff Hopper and Links Players president Jeffrey Cranford consider whether perfection is at all possible.

A Bible study for today’s devotion is available for printout as a pdf file. Click here.

The Process of Perfection, Part 1

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NIV)

The concept of perfect is up for debate. Perfection in many disciplines is synonymous with precision; there is only one perfect. In other arenas, it is only a subjective approximation. For instance, if I told you that my wife and I have “the perfect relationship,” you would request an explanation. Does this mean we’ve never argued, that I always get my way, that our checkbook balances every month—all of the above and more? There is a lot of wiggle room there!

Golf can be the same. You and I can both hit “perfect” drives, yet our balls may be several steps apart. I can hit a “perfect” putt and watch it shyly lip out, while you can slam yours into the back of the cup, where it pops up in the air, and clumsily falls in. Your result certainly looks more perfect than mine.

Perfect can really leave us guessing.

This is no less true when we consider Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. Surely God does not expect us, admitted sinners, to be perfect. In fact, God himself came as Jesus in order to go to the cross and pay for our countless sins. And now we are to be perfect? Crazy!

There is, however, a nuance to the Greek word, teleios, from which we derive “perfect” in our English translations. It is the idea of completion. In God’s eyes, what is complete has been made perfect.

Consider as well the context of the statement. It comes in the midst of Jesus’ comparative ethics. “You see the tax collectors and pagans doing such and such,” he was saying. “You must do so much more.” Then, “You see the ultra-religious behaving like this and that. Your approach must be quite different.”

So here is our best insight into Jesus’ meaning in this passage: It is time to move away from the imperfect examples you have been given and move toward the way God would have things done—with love for those who are difficult to love, with humility when some kudos would be nice, with meaningful relationship rather than superstitious repetition. As you surrender your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit, he will work in you to reflect the Father’s true perfection; he will steer your course toward completion in him.

Jeff Hopper
April 24, 2015
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