Written by Rachel Quigley
This perfect mindset can mess us up. We’re often hindered by believing we must be perfect or at least portray perfection. Yet Paul writes in Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fallen short.” We all miss the mark. So, if God knows we are not perfect and in our human state we are not able to obtain perfection what does Jesus mean when He says, “Be perfect.”
The translation of the word perfect is similar to other translated words where we don’t quite have an adequate English word to represent what the Greek word means. It’s like the word love. We love our families and we love cheeseburgers yet those love definitions are not equally weighted.
In our English language we understand perfect as a performance-based target where we aim, shoot, and hit the bullseye every time. Yet the word perfect (Greek translation = Teleios) in this verse means completion, wholeness, maturity.
The call to perfection (teleios) in this verse is the same call to holiness we see throughout the Old and New Testament. It’s not calling us to moral perfection but instead wholehearted orientation toward God. Teleios is an intentional, purposeful wholeness of a person.
Instead of looking at perfection as unattainable, a better reframing of perfection in this context would be wholeness, completeness, whole living, flourishing growth.
Whole health is caring for ourselves well. God cares about our whole being. He is Spirit, yet He became flesh to dwell among us (John 1:14). Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, took on the vulnerability and beauty of being human. He enjoyed eating meals and napped when He was tired. He wept with His close friends and He stood up to injustice.
God’s work of redemption includes the restoration of our body, mind, and soul. He cares for our whole being. (spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally) Wholeness in these areas brings a sense of balance and wholeness in our living.
Many of us struggle in balancing these areas. We find when we are lacking in one area, it impacts other areas of living. For example, when physically tired, our emotions are edgy and mental capacities can wane. These areas impact each other.
Keeping balance in our schedules, staying rested, making healthy decisions, and other disciplines will help tremendously. But what else can keep us from flourishing in our lives?
One is our thoughts and patterns. Proverbs 23:7 says, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Our thoughts circle around to our actions or inactions and those decisions give us the results of our life. Our thoughts become things. Our thoughts create feelings, and our feelings can drive our actions or inactions. For example,
How can we change our thought patterns?
1. Recognize our faulty thinking - We can self-sabotage our own growth by letting our thoughts and fears of failure do us in before anyone else has a chance to.
2. Be kinder to ourselves and others in our thought life –
Changing our thought practices will help us see and notice our thought patterns. Reigning in our thoughts and making them obedient to Christ changes things at the root level.
~ Philippians 4:8, Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable… if anything is excellent or praiseworthy… think on these things.
~ Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is --- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
3. Tune in, Listen, and Obey the Holy Spirit’s leading. – We achieve a greater sense of wholeness in our lives when we lean into God’s idea of wholeness. This leads to flourishing growth and goodness in our lives.
The pressure for posting perfection is exhausting and yields fleeting results. But living in the fullness of whole living, completeness, and moving towards maturity brings a flourishing that yields joy, satisfaction, purpose, and glory to the Father who brings good to our lives. And that is worth posting about!