Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48 HCSB
In coming from a long line of perfectionists, this scripture was always haunting as well as terrifying to me. It was like it confirmed all my worst suspicions about my Heavenly Father, who had a furrowed brow and a huge magnifying glass sighted on me to inspect my performance for flaws and imperfections. I heard it like this: “DO IT PERFECTLY, BECAUSE I AM PERFECT! DON’T MESS UP!” This is exhausting to even read!
Not only did I burden myself with an attempt to perform perfectly, I was also a carrier of this disease, inflicting it on those around me. Yes, I rode myself relentlessly like a horse and then occasionally would saddle others with my expectations as well. “Giddy up, and do it right!” Just repulsive!
Perfectionism is just another “ism” which divides and shames. It burdens the soul of man with a standard of rightness without righteousness. All man-made constructs of goodness falter and then fall into legalism and death. Perfectionism for me became a god, with a loud voice into all my doings and the doings of others. But this wasn’t the heart behind Jesus’ words at all. He gave the Sermon on the Mount to liberate the people, not to ensnare them with additional legalism. They’d already endured that under the Pharisees.
Perfect is as Perfect Does, Be Perfect
This morning while driving to the gym, I winced at a memory of perfectionism in my life. I hate it now with a passion, even though I realize that if I am not in the Spirit, I’m still susceptible to taking hold of the riding crop and begin to whip. Always nice to know who you are without Christ, just in case you forget.
When I got to the pool I had the perfect message shuffled through my iPod. It was Martha speaking about LOVE. This message has now been turned into a booklet, titled Why Am I? But I wanted to share with you part of the transcript I heard:
“Love makes you something – not achievement, not things, not position. It is love that makes you something and that gives you significance. Not how much you are loved, but how much you love.
“It is love that gives you worth. We measure worth by everything else. But God measures the worth of a person by love.
“My words are nothing and I myself am nothing without love. And if you don’t love, you will have lived for nothing. You will have tried and labored and striven, all for nothing.
“Those who possess the secrets of power, we think they are somebody.
“Doesn’t power make you somebody? Doesn’t money make you somebody? Doesn’t beauty make you somebody? Doesn’t title make you somebody?
“No, love makes you somebody. Without love, I have no substance, no worth, no significance, no permanence, and no contribution. I, as a person, count for nothing without love.
“You can live your life in a sacrificial manner, you can give everything to the poor and it won’t gain you anything. You could even lay down your life, but without love you will gain nothing. Without love your words have nothing. Without love you are nothing. Without love your deeds gain you nothing.
“The only thing, therefore, is love. If nothing can be gained and nothing can exist and nothing has worth without love, then the only thing that matters is love. And with love…everything falls in place.”
Love is Perfection – Be PerFect
Wow, what a word! Without love, I am nothing. Love is perfection; it isn’t my perfectly performing a standard that I erected. I am not only perfected by love but in love. Love is the essence of His message and love is my maturity and perfection. To be perfect is to have ‘nothing which belongs left out.’ Thank God perfect is not about perfectionism, for in that we would all fail. To be perfect is living in the Life of the Perfect One in Love.