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 (Manna 71: What Does God Require of You?)
Be Perfect Just as Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect
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Be Perfect Just as Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect

Based on a sermon by Tae-Hoon Jung—Chicago, USA

Nobody’s Perfect…

Nobody is perfect. The longer we live, the better we know ourselves and the more we realize how imperfect we are. All of us have both strengths and limitations. Consider how much we learn in school or university; even after gaining a doctorate degree, we have not yet learned and known everything in this world. No matter how much we see in this world, our sight will still be limited. In short, man is limited, and by his own efforts, he cannot be perfect.

According to the Bible, there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins (Eccl 7:20). No matter how religious we are or how much we try to be holy, we are still sinners; we cannot be perfect. Yet Jesus tells us to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48). Since God is the potter, and we are His vessels made by Him, we can achieve whatever He instructs, which, in this case, is to be perfect.

In the beginning, the heavens, the earth, and all living beings created by God were perfect. Hence, God said that it was good (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). But later, when man fell and sin entered the world, Satan destroyed this perfection. Today, God has chosen us as His children and brought us to His church. Now He asks us to be perfect in order to restore the image of God in which we were created.


God made each person with a different personality and varying abilities, and He has a different requirement for each one of us. We need not compare ourselves with others. Instead, we should strive to fulfill God’s expectation towards us.

God made each of us for a purpose, and once we fulfill that purpose, we can be perfect. For example, when the potter makes a soup bowl and the bowl is being used for soup, it has fulfilled its purpose and to its maker, is thus perfect. Therefore, we should try our best to fulfill our Maker’s purpose.

Conversely, if we are not fulfilling our purpose or even striving towards it, spiritual decay can set in. Consider water flowing from a mountain to a river and finally into an ocean. As it flows, it gives life to everything around it. But sometimes the stream of water may branch off and end up in a dirty pond that gives off a stench. This water has lost its original God-designed purpose of flowing until it reaches the sea, and giving life to the land it passes through. Likewise, we must clearly identify God’s purpose for our spiritual lives. Otherwise, we will go astray and our faith will become stagnant and rot.

Jesus has set this goal for us: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. So this is our purpose—to keep pursuing God’s perfection. If we do so, our life will be full of vitality. Gradually, we will be able to glorify God, and eventually, we will reach His perfection and enter the heavenly kingdom.


In the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5), Jesus teaches us how to be perfect. Through the beatitudes, He tells us which worthwhile goals Christians should aim for. In order to achieve these goals and receive God’s promised blessings, we need to constantly cultivate ourselves spiritually by relying on His Holy Spirit and His word.

In Mt 5:48, Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount by specifying our ultimate goal: be perfect. As Christians, our aim is to receive these blessings and be perfect like our heavenly Father. Since we have been made a new man after our baptism (Rom 6:3–11), we must allow our new self to grow and mature to meet God’s expectations.

“You are the salt of the earth; … You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5:13,14)

Salt can be obtained by evaporating seawater. After the process of evaporation, salt still contains other impurities and has to be further purified before it becomes fine salt. Similarly, oil can be used to produce light, but first, it also needs to be refined. Likewise, in order to become perfect and be used by God, we too need to go through a process of refinement. We cannot turn into the finest salt overnight—perfection takes time.


Set High Standards

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Mt 5:17–18)

Jesus came into this world, not to abolish but to accomplish the law by dying on the cross for us. He became the salt and light of the world, and by taking the commandments to a higher level, He set an example for us in terms of moral standards.

For example, Jesus encourages us to avoid anger (Mt 5:21–26) and lust (Mt 5:27–30), equating them to murder and adultery respectively. He also imposes new standards regarding our speech (“Do not swear at all”) and relationships (“Love your enemies”). Hence, as Christians, we need to set high standards in order to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.

Be Perfect In Holiness

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

(1 Pet 1:13-16)

“Be holy, for I am holy” can be read as “be perfect, for I am perfect.” God’s grace of salvation is most precious and beyond comparison with anything in this world. We have to preserve this grace. But in order to keep our salvation, we have to be holy.

We are surrounded by sin. If we are not careful, sin will enter our heart and cause us to depart from God. The young among us are especially susceptible to the countless powerful temptations that exist. But, old or young, we must not become slack and compromise with the world, lest we lose our faith. We have to be sober and watchful; we must constantly rely on the Spirit and word of God to guide us.

Be Perfect In Love

“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)

The message in Luke 6:20–23, 27–36 is similar to that in Matthew 5:1–12, 43–48. Both passages refer to the beatitudes and the standard of love. Both passages end with Jesus’ encouragement to love our enemies and to be like our heavenly Father. Therefore, we can once again understand that being merciful just as our Father is merciful is akin to being perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.

We live in a selfish world, where it is usually “me first” and others second. But as Christians, we should be different. We have to consider others first (Phil 2:4). Only then can God’s love be manifested through us, and only then can we bring joy and warmth to others.

Furthermore, love is so fundamental that the underlying principle of keeping the Ten Commandments is love. The first to fourth commandments are about loving God; the fifth to tenth commandments about loving our neighbor. In short, love is the beginning of our understanding of God. It is the way to become perfect in the sight of God.

Be Perfect In Faith

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ ” (Mk 9:24)

Here was a father whose son was demon-possessed. When he approached the disciples for help, they could not cast out the demon. So the father turned to Jesus instead. When Jesus saw that the father did not have enough faith, He told him, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23). The father then cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

During His ministry, Jesus healed many people. They were healed because they had faith. They did not receive healing because they deserved to be healed on account of the strength of their faith. Instead, they were healed because they had a strong desire to ask God for help, although their faith was lacking. Sometimes, we may think that we have received this or that because we had faith. But this is a misunderstanding. We receive what we ask for because God is merciful. Hence, although our faith may not be strong enough, God still helps us if we humbly ask Him.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12)

We should not think that we can stand firm because our faith is strong. We can stand firm because of God. True strength of faith comes from the understanding that we are weak. This realization will help us to completely rely on God and become strong.

When Jesus was about to be crucified, Peter wanted to protect Him. He even said he would offer his life for Jesus and that he would never leave Jesus. But Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times. At that time, Peter still did not understand his own weakness. Jesus saw that Peter’s faith was not yet perfect. Therefore, Jesus allowed Peter to deny Him three times so that Peter could understand that he was just as weak as everybody else. Later on, when Peter had realized that he was weak and Jesus asked him for the third time, “Do you love Me?” Peter only answered, “You know that I love You.” He said this out of true faith.


Today, we may be still far from perfection. However, if we have the desire to strive for perfection and do not use human fallibility as an excuse to indulge in our weakness or tolerate sin, God will help us. With this goal, our Christian life will increasingly be filled with joy and vitality. Let us therefore strive to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

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Author: Tae-Hoon Jung