Eager to know God, I have been a student of the word for quite some time. And there have been quite a few verses in the Bible that have caused me great distress through the years. One of them is:
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 KJV
Already being a perfectionist in nature, no matter what I am attempting to do I feel strongly compelled to do it exactly right. But this? How is this possible? We know God is perfect and we are not, so what is He really asking of us?
It’s written in the Amplified Bible this way:
“You, therefore, must be perfect – growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity – as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Whew! We are supposed to be growing into complete maturity.
When my children were little we measured their growth. As babies they were weighed often, even at times at the grocery store! (Back in the day there were rather large scales at every register in order to weigh the produce. It was not uncommon for a baby to be placed on the scale if a parent knew the cashier. I suppose it wouldn’t work in our day and time as our children do not have PLU codes, and certainly not with all the concern over germs!)
Once they were able to walk, we backed them up against a wall where we’d hung the growth chart and marked the new height they had attained. This recording was celebrated with each new inch! While never focused on looking for problems, any dramatic lack of growth would have prompted a visit to the doctor to see if something were wrong.
If we had a chart that measured our growth in maturity of godliness, what would it reveal?
God does expect His children to grow, just as any good parent does, and a lack of growth is an indicator that something is wrong. Have we grown to be more loving, forgiving, patient? Maybe our growth is slow, but it still counts! Or perhaps as we weigh ourselves we find that we haven’t grown in quite some time.
More than our perfection in this life, He is looking for persistence. Are we persistent in our seeking to grow? Do we hunger for His word which is the only way we can be changed? Do we crave time with Him more and more? These are the ways we grow up in Him. But unlike our physical bodies, this growth takes decisive action on our part. We must choose to grow up, persistently moving toward perfection.