BATTLING WITH PERFECTION
by Tesh Njokanma 7/11/2014 / Christian Living
Are there some Bible verses you find confusing and difficult to abide by? Personally, I have come across some Bible verses like that. Well, I wouldn't say I find some verses confusing, more like I sincerely wonder if some verses are attainable in this life. One of such scriptures is Matthew 5:48 which says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect". When I read this verse, the word PERFECT jumps out at me and I ask myself, can any human being be perfect; totally free from flaws, completely sinless, a perfect replication of a perfect God?
When I reflect on my walk with God over the years, I wouldn't say things have been absolutely perfect or all rosy. But I'm grateful for one thing: I believe that with each passing year, I have gained a better understanding of what perfection stands for and this has gone a long way in helping my walk with God. I'm no longer as petrified as I used to be some years back when I come across verses like Matthew 5:48. I've learnt a few helpful things about being perfect:
1. God doesn't need you to be perfect before He can use you:
Not once in the Bible will you come across an account of a person who was perfect before the person was used by God. The only person that falls into this category is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
James 5:17 tells us something interesting. It says "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years". The phrase 'Elijah was a man just like us' means he had flesh and blood like you and I. It means Elijah faced the same kind of temptations and struggles you and I face today. It's clear from scripture that Elijah struggled with doubt, fear and insecurity (1 Kings 19:1-4). There were times when he was confused and at the verge of giving up, yet he was mightily used by God. He spoke a simple word and by his word there was no trace of rain in the land for three and a half years. God didn't honour and back up this word spoken by Elijah because he was perfect. God honoured him because when he looked into Elijah's heart, though he saw a man with flaws and weaknesses, he still saw a man with a deep love and devotion to God. He saw a man that was ready to go the extra mile for the work of the Lord and so God was pleased to use him.
You can love God with everything in you and still not be perfect. Romans 8:28 tells us that "we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose". God doesn't turn situations around for your good because you are perfectly sinless. He causes things to work for your favour because you love Him.
The Bible is full of people who loved God, people that our great God moved mightily in their lives, families and situations, yet they were anything but perfect! Abraham, the great man of faith, once told an outright lie to save his neck (Genesis 20:2). Noah, the man God described as the only righteous man in his generation, once drank himself to a drunken stupor (Genesis 9:20-21). Moses whom God used to perform some of the greatest miracles ever heard of, had a problem with anger. David that was declared the man after God's heart, was guilty as charged of adultery and murder. Peter who was listed as one of the pillars of the early church, had the nerve to publicly deny our Lord three times. These were ordinary, imperfect people like you and I that God used for extraordinary purposes. Why? Because in spite of their apparent weaknesses, they loved God and yielded their lives completely to His service.
If we wait until we are perfect, we may never do anything for God. We will just go to the grave with all the talents, skills and potentials God has put in us unused and untapped. What a big shame that would be!
God isn't searching for perfect people, He's searching for people who love Him, people who believe in Him and in what He says, people who are passionate about Him. This doesn't mean that God is indifferent to sin or that He enjoys or loves to see us sin. It simply means that when your heart is completely yielded to God, He would daily work on your imperfections, shaping and moulding you into the person He created you to be.
2. Perfect people limit the power of God
I will never forget what God did with an article I wrote many years ago. When you work with printers, be ready for anything! On this particular occasion, when my article came out in print, I discovered that a large chunk of the article had been cut off by the printer. I don't mean like the way an editor would cut off some portions of an article that he or she feels are irrelevant. The article was cut off in a way that the paragraph ended without making any sense. When I saw it, I was furious as I felt all my hard work had gone down the drain. I remember telling my mom what had happened and she said the mistake had been done and there's nothing I can do about it. The only thing I can do is pray that God would cover the mistake and still use the article to minister to people. This I did. That prayer gave me an experience with God I will always live to remember. People I didn't know kept calling and writing me to tell me how much the article had blessed them. I received an invitation to minister at a Women's Breakfast Meeting by a church that said they read my article, were tremendously blessed by it, and wanted me to come and speak to their women. This was nothing but the power of God. I saw the power of God at work in what you would call an 'imperfect article'.
Now when I see mistakes in my life and the things I do, I don't work myself into a frenzy. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to draw closer to God and depend on Him to help me overcome that imperfection and at the same time display His strength in that apparent weakness of mine. I now understand why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that "for Christ sake, I delight in weaknessesfor when I am weak, then I am strong". Paul wanted to be anything but perfect, but he learnt like I'm learning that times of weaknesses, times of imperfections are opportunities if you are yielded to God, to see a great God take over and manifest His awesome power in your life.
3. There is only one perfect place:
Nothing in this fallen world of ours is perfect. There's no place where everything is in perfect order or works perfectly. We are not perfect, our spouses aren't perfect, our children aren't perfect, our government isn't perfect, even the church isn't perfect.
Paul came to the realization that he would never get a perfect situation while here on earth. This was why Paul declared, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). When Paul looked at his life and everything around him, he saw a poor reflection; a poor expression of what God originally intended things on earth to be. But he wasn't discouraged by these imperfections. He was just waiting and working towards the day he would see perfection at its best; the day He would meet face to face with a perfect God and be in heaven, the place of true glory, the only perfect place.
4. A better way to see things:
Now when I read verses like Matthew 5:48 or 2 Corinthians 13:11 which tells us to aim for perfection, I hear something much deeper than being absolutely flawless. I hear words like EXCEL, MATURE, COMPLETENESS, FULFILMENT.
We shouldn't allow the mistakes, disappointments, or failures of today keep us from pressing on to receive what tomorrow has in store. We are all in a race and Christ is at the finish line waiting for us. He doesn't leave where He is standing or remove His gaze from us because we fell down flat while running. No, He keeps cheering us on, shouting out these words of encouragement: keep running, keep moving, keep growing, keep trying. Don't give up. You can make it, you can do it, are the words coming out from Christ. He's our greatest cheer leader. He cheers us on not because we are perfect, but because He wants us to be perfect; He wants us to excel, to grow up, to become mature, to be complete in Him and to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. Now the question is are these things attainable? CERTAINLY! Most certainly!
Tesh Njokanma is a lawyer by training whose heart is in writing. She is a prolific writer with over 15 years experience as a magazine Editor. She is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God with a prayer and teaching ministry. Tesh is married with children. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria.