How Perfect is Perfect?
I don’t know about you, but when I read verses in the scriptures that tell me to “be perfect,” I have to cringe and hang my head in shame. Yeshua tells us to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 CJB) I’ve never been perfect and don’t think I will this side of heaven. I’ve heard that this life is akin to bootcamp, and we work toward the goal of perfection.
If that’s the case, I’ll be in bootcamp for a long, long time.
Deuteronomy 18:13 in the King James version tells us “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord they G-d.” For much of my Christian life, this refrain of being perfect has kept me in a flux of guilt and dejection because, quite frankly, I don’t measure up.
But then I decided to look at the words in the original language of the Bible to see if perfection was what was really said in these cases.
Last Friday in Torah Bites, I mentioned the Hebrew word Tamim (תָּמִים), which means “complete, perfect, finish, without blemish or defect. This is the word used in Deuteronomy 18:13 above. Sounds a lot like perfection, doesn’t it? Then I looked this word up in Strong’s, and see that completeness is given in the context of sincerity or soundness.
That’s when it began to click and the residual guilt that stayed with me constantly started to fall away. In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Bible tells us “For G-d hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV – emphasis mine)
But what about Yeshua’s admonition for us to be perfect? When I looked the Greek of the New Covenant up in Strong’s, I found that this word meant “complete in labor, growth, mental and moral character.” Again, completeness is given in the context of soundness.
Romans 12:2 states: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of G-d, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV) How do we discern the will of G-d? By his instructions, which are contained in Torah.
Perfection, as I have always understood it, meant almost a state of being. But it’s not. It’s a state of mind and attitude. As we live and respond to the things in our lives in a manner that is consistent with the Word, the more we become perfected or completed in our attitudes and our minds. Adherence to Adonai’s laws brings us completeness, wholeness, and a sound mind.
This is what it means to be perfect, a transition of sinful nature into oneness with Yeshua as we obey the commands of the Father. It’s a clarity of mind and spirit that is cultivated that allows us to see and act as our Father in heaven does.