August 17, 2007
Practice Makes Perfect
By Marybeth Whalen
Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but this verse has always made me nervous. I mean only Jesus is perfect, right? Perfection is impossible this side of heaven, right? So, why did God include this verse? I recently stumbled upon a new perspective for this verse that helped me to see it in a different, more hopeful light.
Perfection simply means “to seek union with God.” As we chase after Him with all our hearts, forming a relationship that is dependent upon Him, we are pursuing perfection. The closer we grow to Him, the more perfect we become. The more time we spend communing with Him, the closer we are to His image—the image of perfection. The trouble is that we interject our own insecurities into that verse. We know we can’t be perfect. We have tried it but it hasn’t worked. And so, we just dismiss that verse with a huff. “That is simply asking too much,” we tell God and give up before we have even begun.
Yet God is not asking anything more than to begin walking with Him, to pursue a relationship with Him, and to love Him more each day. The more we delight in Him, the more our desires line up with His. (Psalm 37:3-4) And the more our desires line up with His, the more perfect our hearts and minds become. We complicate what is actually simple.
Hosea 11:3 says, “’It was I who taught [my children] to walk.’” Just as parents teach their children to walk, God is allowing us as His children the time to practice our steps as we progress a bit more each day. He expects us to stumble along the way. Psalm 37:24, says, “Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” I take great comfort in knowing that He knows I will surely stumble.
Whether I stumble or fall is not the point. The point is that I am walking, one baby step at a time, with Him. I have a firm grasp on His hand, and I have let go of the things of this world that keep me from moving forward. The more I do this, the more perfect I become; the more I am molded into His perfect image. When you put it like that, perfection seems doable. It even seems likely. The Bible says I can do everything through Him, who gives me strength (Philippians ). I am counting on that Truth as I practice walking with Him day by day, getting closer to perfect with each step I take.
Dear Lord, I desperately want to be perfect and to please You. I am learning that You make me perfect as I draw close to You. Help me to be intentional about doing this day by day. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Is there something that stands between you and God— something that is keeping you from walking with Him on a consistent basis? Take whatever steps necessary to remove any barriers from your life.
What is your image of perfection? Do you feel perfection is impossible? How has your perspective been changed or challenged?
Hosea 11:4, “’I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.’” (NIV)
Jeremiah 31: 3, “’I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” (NIV)
II Corinthians , “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 17 August 2007.