Focus on Conformance, not Performance!

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So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.   (Matthew 5:48 NET)

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"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor' and 'hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don't they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don't they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NET)

Jesus ordered us to be perfect just like our Father God. So, how do we attain that level of perfection? I am glad you asked! Note the context and the content of this order from Jesus. He was teaching the Jewish people in what would later be referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. The transliterated Koine (i.e., common) Greek word for "perfect" in this passage is teleios which means here in this verse "to grow to maturity." Furthermore, in context believers are not being told here in this verse to be without sin (1) like God but specifically, are told to grow into the maturity of the kindness of God who provides sun and rain for both saved and unsaved people (e.g., for the crops that provided the livelihood of both the saved and unsaved farmers).

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NET)

The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NET)

Since the Bible states that God not only has love (John 3:16) but is love Himself let us substitute the word "love" with "God", since they are equivalent in scripture, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to see if kindness is part of the character of God.  

God is patient, God is kindGod is not envious. God does not brag, God is not puffed up. God is not rude, God is not self-serving, God is not easily angered, God is not resentful. God is not glad about injustice, God rejoices in the truth. God bears all things, God believes all things, God hopes all things, God endures all things. God never ends.

Yes, kindness is part of the character of God! Consequently, Jesus is telling us to grow into the maturity of the character of God. So, what does the end state of the command Jesus gave us to be perfect look like? Thanks for asking! Fill in the blanks below with your name:

_______is patient, _______is kind, _______is not envious. _______does not brag, _______is not puffed up. _______is not rude, _______is not self-serving, _______is not easily angered, _______ is not resentful. _______is not glad about injustice, _______ rejoices in the truth. _______bears all things, _______ believes all things, _______ hopes all things, _______ endures all things. _______never ends. 

Say "Amen!" or "Oh, me!"  Simple, yet hard without God the Holy Spirit influencing our lives (1) to become Christlike including bearing His Fruits (1).

Realize, God the Father is not as interested in what we are doing as He is in who we are being and in whom we are believing. Meaning it is more important to God the Father that you resemble His unique Son Jesus than you perform a resounding number of works. That is, we are to focus on conformance to Christ Jesus and not performance! Again, better to have one work saturated with the character of Christ than a significant number of dead works (1) without. 

So then they said to him, "What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?"   Jesus replied, "This is the deed God requires– to believe in the one whom he sent."  (John 6:28-29 NET)

And we know that all things (1) work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28-29 NET)

Consequentially, we should focus on accepting others (1) (and ourselves (1)) unconditionally, affirming their (and our) progress towards Christlikeness, and not criticizing them (or ourselves) for lack of perfection. We are NOT to be like the Experts in the Law and Pharisees both of which were hypocrites (i.e., actors on the stage of life! Matthew 23:13,15,16, 23,25,27,29) that thought to point out all of the wrongs in others was the path to perfection. Sadly, they had missed the point of the Law (1) which was to point us to the need for God's Grace, Mercy, and Compassion in the person of His unique Son the Lord Jesus (1). 

Amen

 



(1) Left click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.

 


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