“Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48 NKJV).
The perfection Jesus calls us to is reflection. We do not radiate perfection–we reflect it. We are not the source of perfection but mirrors of the source:
“He tells us to be perfect as He is, in the same manner. We are to be centers of light and blessing to our little circle, even as He is to the universe. We have nothing of ourselves, but the light of His love shines upon us, and we are to reflect its brightness. ‘In His borrowed goodness good,’ we may be perfect in our sphere, even as God is perfect in His (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 77).
Any good we manifest is a borrowed good. And any love we bestow is a borrowed love. Jesus’ life is made manifest “in our mortal flesh” as we live by faith, being crucified with Him so that it is no longer we who live, but Christ in us the hope of glory. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
You and I, by faith in the living Christ, have been forever perfected through His once for all sacrifice even as we are being sanctified…even as we are being perfected. Perfection is not something we attain to, but something we surrender to.
Perfection is the good work Christ has begun in us and the good work He will finish. This is Paul’s testimony to the church in Philippi when he declares his confidence that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6 NKJV).
And how does He complete this perfect work which He has begun in us? By working within us “to will and work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Hallelujah! Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith; the pioneer and perfecter (Hebrews 12:2). He will finish what he started: a perfect work in the hearts of His people.
And what is this perfect work? John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The perfect work of Christ is to grow love within us and between us. The perfect work of Christ is to unite His church under the banner of His blood, and make us faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God. Jesus’ intercessory work, His prayer for us is that we might be perfected in unity:
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:20–23 NASB).
As the Father answers the prayer of Christ, we receive the glory which the Father gave to Christ. The glory of His grace. The glory of His favor. The glory of His love. And all of this glory binds us together in perfect unity so the world may know that Christ came. He lived. He died. And He rose again so all who would receive Him might have life. What a glorious perfection! What a wonderous grace! These are the “things which angels desire to look into,” and “the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (1 Pet. 1:12, Eph. 3:9–10 NKJV).
Yes, we are reflectors of the perfect love and grace of God. Witnesses not only to the world, but also “to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (i.e. witnesses to the onlooking universe). Our perfection proclaims the perfection of our Father. The glory revealed in us, is all for the glory of His name. And the fruit of His perfect love perfecting us is for boldness in the day of judgment:
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:17–18 NKJV).
Application: Last night as I was driving home I could feel the anxiety of business setting in. I was drifting into fear and worry because I couldn’t be all and do all. The perfection of God’s love and favor was slipping from my grasp because I was thinking it all depended on me, when in reality I needed to place all my dependance on Him!
In that moment, the Holy Spirit impressed me to call some friends and ask for prayer. And when I was praying with my buddy Bruce Swanson he said to me, “Be kind to yourself, Pastor. It’s all going to work out. You don’t have to do it all.”
What words of grace. What words of favor. What words of love. This wasn’t just Bruce speaking, this was my Father speaking through Bruce. I am so glad that the perfection He expects is not perfect performance, but rather perfect love. I am so glad that what He desires is a response to His love and not an earning of His love. I am so glad that we can be kind to ourselves, and easy on ourselves because He is easy on us. I am so glad the perfection to which He calls us casts out fear rather than creating it.
And because of this truth, I believe Jesus’ invitation to me today is: “Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt. 25:23 NKJV). There is joy in knowing we are loved. Joy in knowing we are forgiven. Joy in knowing we are perfected by His grace. Yes, there is joy in knowing He will finish the work of perfection He has begun in us. Joy in knowing we are His.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I surrender to You my less than perfect life. Today I surrender my fears and my failures. Today I declare your praise. You are worthy to receive all honor, glory, power, and might. For You have perfected me forever even as You are sanctifying me today.
Thank You Jesus. Thank You for this perfection You have called me to. Thank You for this love You have birthed in me. Thank You for promising to complete the work You have begun. O Jesus, give me Your heart! Let the things that break Yours break mine. Let the things that stir Yours stir mine. Let the things that thrill Yours thrill mine. Give me Your heart Jesus. Grant me Your love. Live in me, love through me, bless me. I give You my life, all for Your glory. Amen!