by Pastor Tim Burt
This may seem like a silly question to some, but have you ever strived to be perfect? Is the pursuit of striving to be perfect a good thing or a bad thing? Actually, the pursuit of perfection is a God-given desire but different from what you might think. Let me shed some light on it.
First of all, we were created by God in His image. Genesis 1:27 (NLT) "So God created human beings in His own image…” I know your parents conceived you and your mother gave birth to you, but it all started with God. He first created man in His image. Just as you take on appearance and qualities of your parents, so likewise you were created to take on qualities of God. That is inherent within our being. God is perfect so should it then be surprising that we might want to strive for that perfection?
Our efforts toward perfection were curtailed by the sin of Adam. Sin spread to all mankind. Romans 5:17 NLT “The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us…” Thank God, He has a plan to help us through Jesus! Romans 5:18 NLT “…but all who receive God's wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam's one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness makes all people right in God's sight and gives them life.”
The gift of reconciliation or having our sins forgiven and being made right and united with God comes to all who personally receive Jesus Christ as Savior. That happens by asking God to forgive you of all your sins and by asking Jesus to come into your heart to be your Savior and Lord. Upon that sincere request through prayer, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within you in response to your request and life transformation is ready to happen. The Holy Spirit gives you the power over sin that you never before had.
In that light, the Apostle Paul wrote these words to us that again lead us back to striving for perfection. Col. 3:5-10 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
In Matthew 5:48 NLT Jesus said, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” That rocks our world in a bad way because we all know that we fall short in obeying Him perfectly. The thought might come: Me perfect? What a joke! I'm a mess trying to survive! Again, as a new believer in Christ, we've been given something we did not have prior to accepting Christ. We have His Holy Spirit and His power for transformation newly dwelling in us. This is why transformation can happen and this is why Paul tells us to begin to trash old bad behaviors and put on new ones as the Holy Spirit helps us. That is when and where the desire to “be perfect” is reactivated in our life. We may have gotten lazy and apathetic or lethargic, but inwardly the desire to become “perfect” or more and more like Jesus simmers from within.
In our desire and efforts to better ourselves which is a good thing, we often get too focused upon ourselves. We try to raise our personal standard and then unconsciously raise the standard of expectation from those around us. That isn’t necessarily the best route to take. We find a better path to go down in Phil 2:3-8 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!”
I don’t think self-help books focus on this aspect of improvement. Serving God and man is seldom at the top of anyone’s list. Selflessness may be the greatest self-improvement plan and step toward perfection you could ever take. It is what begins to make you a light in this world!
Psalms 37:37 KJV says, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.” Trying to reach some unattainable measure of perfection in your life might lead to never-ending disappointment and frustration. But becoming more selfless—giving yourself over to loving and serving God and those around you will bring you much peace and joy and you will see transformation in your life—real heart transformation toward God’s measure of perfection!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt