The word perfection brings to mind a lot of different definitions and a lot of different emotions for all of us. I believe we all have made up our minds what the word means just based on our own personal life journey.
I know for me the word brings up thoughts of insecurities and fairy tales mainly because it seems so out of reach. I say insecurities because perfection is without fault and I can think of a thousand ways to find mistakes in everything about myself and the things I have done. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
The world has given the word a meaning that makes all of us fearful of ourselves without a mask. We feel as long as we mask “it”, whatever “it” may be, then others will see us as this… perfect, flawless person, doing...perfect, flawless things in life.
Perfection depicts that “Everything is happy this way." It says, “I’m self-sufficent,” screams “Self-love over everything” and it tries to cover insecurities by whispering, “I’m better than you.”
“Perfection” brings along pride, depression and anxiety as companions and the internet is the perfect catalyst for it. Comparison, jealousy, and envy is what comes out of us looking at the mask people put on, even if it's unconsciously done.
I will take a big leap and say that we’ve all fallen into this trap in one way or another. And the illusion is, “If I can paint the outside as pretty as possible, the insides will match.” But we soon come to the realization that it just doesn’t work that way.
These are just some of the things people think about when they think about God. They think they have to be “perfect” before they give God a try. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say, “As soon as I get my stuff together, I am going to give my life to God.” Or you hear people say to people that do read the Bible or try to teach others the Bible, “You think you're perfect.” What they are really saying is, “You are not better than me,” going back to those definitions we make up ourselves..
I always struggled to understand in what context the Bible used the word perfect. Today it dawned on me that God’s definitions are not ours. And I believe definitions are just one of the things that keeps us from Christ.
Words are my thing, so during my devotion this morning I looked up the word perfect.
Perfect: Having all the required or desirable elements,
qualities, or characteristics. As good as it is possible to be.
Whose requirements should we look to? Whose character should we reflect? Whose qualities should we have? God's.
So… if we have all the required and desirable elements, qualities, and characteristics that GOD wants us to have,not the world, but GOD, then that makes us perfect!
I was reading about the prophet Elisha today in 2 Kings 6 and I thought his actions in this passage was a perfect example of what perfection looks like to God. I am paraphrasing this story so when you have time to read it for yourself, please do, it’s worth the read.
So, there was a war going on in verses 8-23. King Aram was at war with Israel. He made plans with his officers to send troops into Israel. The king of Israel got word from Elisha about the plans King Aram was making. King Aram gets very upset about it, and begins to think there is a traitor in his camp. He asks them who was reporting to the king of Israel about his plans, and they told him flat out, “It’s not us, it’s the prophet Elisha."
So King Aram sends troops to find Elisha to arrest him. The troops reported Elisha’s wherabouts. King Aram sent his army in the middle of the night with chariots and horses to surround the city of Dothan, where Elisha was and as they came towards Elisha, he prayed and asked the Lord to make all of them blind and He did. And Elisha tells them that they came the wrong way and that they were in the wrong city all together! Elisha led them to Samaria and as soon as they got there, Elisha asked the Lord to open their eyes, and He did.
When the King of Israel saw them, He asked Elisha should he kill them and surprisingly Elisha told him no. Elisha told him to give them food and water and send them back to their master. So the King of Israel made them a great big feast, and sent them back to their king, and the Bible says that after that, they stayed away from the land of Israel.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT),“You have heard that the law of Moses says, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust,too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be PERFECT, even as your Father in heaven is PERFECT.”
This is God’s definition of perfection, loving your neighbor and your enemies. Praying for those that seek to kill you and being kind to everyone, not just people you consider close friends.
This doesn’t sound like anything we have made up in our own mind, and yet it still seems like a tall order because emotions can be deadly! We want to inflict the same pain, hurt, and guilt on the person that has done it to us. As humans, we want them to feel what we feel and not giving into that trap is just as hard as not falling into the trap of perfection the world has set for us.
Elisha could have agreed to kill them and thought nothing else about it. They were the enemy. But he chose to follow God. It is an usual way for us, but it worked. They never came back.
I bet you that God’s definition of perfect has no competition! Who do you know is feeding the enemies and praying for them? Really. Honestly. We all struggle with this. It’s not popular. And it’s not an easy thing to do.
So the next time I hear someone say that they have to “Get themselves together before they come to God”, I am going to share this truth with them. Because the truth is that we can’t reach this level of perfection without God’s Spirit. God wants to ameliorate our situation, not to have us think that we have to reach some fairytale standard that’s impossible to even see. We can actually see this definition of perfection God gives us, it just takes His Spirit to reach it, and it is even more of a reason to come to God just as we are right now.
Romans 12:17-21 (NLT), “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written,“I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” Says the Lord. Instead, do what the scripture say:“If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, And they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Let us thank God that his ways and his thoughts are not ours! Let’s practice being perfect.
I love you.