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Perfection and perfectionists
- Jacob Ninan
God wants us to be perfect (Mt.5:48). He has given us commandments and instructions so that we can become more and more perfect in all that we do, say, and think. When we are born again, we also get a desire in our heart to be pleasing to the Lord in every way.
But some people ask, "Are you real? Can anyone be perfect?" Of course, only God is perfect. But when He caused us to be born again as His children, He has not only forgiven our sins but also started a work in us to transform us into the nature of His Son, Jesus Christ (Ro.8:28,29). This means a transformation of our way of thinking and behaviour (Ro.12:1,2). This process is called 'sanctification' which goes on and on as long as we live.
But as long as we are under this process, we are never going to be perfect in the sense of having no flaw or fault in us. We are all aware of how we do many things wrong, unknowingly and sometimes even knowingly because of our weakness. The apostle James was honest enough to admit that (Jas.3:2). God has made provisions for us to repent and confess our sins so that we can receive forgiveness and start again (1Jn.2:1). This implies that the perfection God expects from us is not one where we are without fault. He wants us to be mature, and to live in accordance with whatever level of understanding we have at any point in time. As we do this, He will also give us more understanding so that our level of maturity can go up higher.
God wants us to be perfect in His sight, and not before people (Ge.17:1). There is no way we can be pleasing to all people, and if we try we will only get into a bondage (Ga.1:10;Pr.29:25). Since God looks at our heart - our thoughts and intentions - and not at our outward actions (1Sa.16:7), and since He understands us perfectly, it is actually easier for us to be pleasing to Him!
Are we scared of perfection? One reason may be that we know we are not perfect and we think it is unrealistic to aim for perfection. We have addressed this aspect already. There are some Christians who actually believe that they have already become perfect, wholly sanctified, etc., due to a misinterpretation of doctrine. Let this also not hinder us.
Another reason may be that we don't like perfectionists! The problem with perfectionists is not that they are seeking to be perfect - which is really a good thing for everybody - but that they demand that others should also be perfect! The more they understand how they themselves should be, they start looking at other people and their imperfections! And then they start telling others how they should be perfect, sometimes with a sincere desire for the others' welfare and sometimes also from a sense of superiority.
If some people are going wrong, that should not prevent us from pursuing perfection in the right way. Let us seek to be more and more pleasing to the Lord. Then we will also be a blessing to others.