Be Perfect Just as Your Heavenly Father Is Perfect
Based on a sermon by Tae-Hoon Jung—Chicago, USA
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.
IS fulfilling GOD’S PURPOSE FOR OUR LIVES
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.
PERFECTION IS A PROCESS
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.
STEPS TO PERFECTION
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.”
“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
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
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
“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.